"I hope you understand why I don't feel exactly optimistic about this," Gwen said, interrupting her agent. She stopped to move out of the way of other pedestrians while she was on the phone. Laliari, who'd been walking next to her, continued on for several steps before pausing in confusion and looking around. When she spotted Gwen, she walked over. Gwen idly noted that she must have either upgraded the gizmo that made her look human or been learning how to emulate walking better. Maybe Fred was giving her lessons. Or maybe Gwen didn't need to think about that too hard. Yeah. Okay. There was being cool with your castmate living with a Thermian and there was envisioning what went on behind closed doors, and Gwen just wasn't up for the latter.
"What?" she asked, shaking herself out of some mental images she hadn't really wanted. "No, it's not that I don't want the press. Of course I want the press. I'm more than thrilled that we're on the air and yes, I would like us to stay there until we jump the shark. Hell, we could use the shuttle to jump six alien sharks on Planet Sharktopia and I'd still show up with my lines down. I just don't want to spend another interview doing boob-duty."
"What is 'boob-duty'?" Laliari asked.
Gwen covered the phone and gestured to her chest. "It's when you've got to remind a man that this? Is not where he should be looking when he speaks to you, and it's also not where you house your brains."
"Ah!" Laliari smiled brightly. "We Thermians do not have 'boobs' but our brains are much lower in our bodies than they are in yours. Perhaps people should speak to me there?"
"No," Gwen said firmly. "They should definitely not." She went back to the phonecall. "Look, Joe, I get it. I do. And I'll do the interview. But can we at least get another woman to do it? Someone who's seen the show and maybe gives a crap? Someone who can ask a question about something other than my uniform and what I thought about the vetoed idea for putting me and Jane in miniskirts?"
Her agent's assurances didn't really comfort her much but Gwen agreed to the interview anyhow. It would be good for the show, and they were riding high right now and wanted to stay that way. Of course, once she hung up and she and Laliari started walking again Gwen realized she hadn't put a moratorium on being asked about her relationship with Jason either.
Well, you couldn't have everything. That was for damn sure.
"Come on," Gwen told Laliari. "We're supposed to meet everyone back at the hotel."
They were booking more and more convention appearances these days and this one was starting in just a couple of hours.
"Yeah," she sighed. "What about you?"
"Oh yeah, definitely. You know me, never pass up a chance to talk about myself." He grinned at her and she had to smile. At least he was making fun at his own expense and not someone else's. He'd gotten a hell of a lot better about that lately.
"All I want is for some intelligent questions," she told him as Alexander rolled his eyes in the corner.
"Come on!" he called over. "Intelligent questions? We'll be lucky if they spell our names right."
Gwen dismissed him. He'd never forgotten someone calling him Alexander Dune and spending the interview asking him about Frank Herbert. He should have considered himself lucky the interviewer had known anything about science fiction at all.
"You know, they asked Laliari for an interview too. Everyone wants to know more about Jane Doe."
"Yeah, well," Jason said with a smirk. "She is quite the enigma."
"I mean, what are the odds that someone's parents would name them Jane Doe?" Tommy asked, shaking his head. "We should probably come up with a story…"
Laliari had been deep in conversation with Fred. Or, well, deep in something. When they got together off set it was usually just one long PDA session so everyone had taken to ignoring them. Now she looked up at her pseudonym - and it had taken some very careful explanations to get her to understand that necessity.
"What story?" she asked, and they all turned to look at her together.
While the rest of the cast stared, Fred took Laliari's hand and got her attention.
"So, you know how after we crashed? When we had to try and explain who you were so we wouldn't scare people, cause no one here knows about Thermians and they think it's all make believe?" Fred asked, and Gwen was instantly certain that this had been a conversation they'd had several times, in detail.
Laliari nodded. "Yes. It is for everyone's protection that I be Jane Doe, so I can be myself."
"Yeah, so. Folks are gonna want to know more about you. But like, not about you you, but about Jane. So. We're gonna have to…"
"Lie," Laliari said, nodding again. "I understand, Fred. It is for the safety of humankind."
The collective sigh of relief was pretty impressive and Gwen almost relaxed until Guy spoke up.
"Oh! I know! You could be like, a spy! Or like, a former spy! An ex-secret agent! And that's why no one knows you and you've got no family here and all and there was a contract on your life but you took 'em out so now you're free to pursue your first love of acting, which, you know, of course you're amazing at cause secret agents have to be amazing actors."
Alexander took care of that by clapping a hand over Guy's mouth. Guy, amazingly, kept going, but no one paid him any mind.
"Yeah, so that's stupid," Tommy put in. "It's got to be believable."
They all agreed on that. Except Guy, who finally stopped talking, letting Alexander step away from him.
One of the convention staffers poked her head into the room. "Five minutes okay with you guys?" she asked. "Need anything? There's water on the table on stage."
"We're good," Jason assured her. "But we'd like some 'cast time' to prep. Little tradition, you know."
She grinned and gave them a thumbs up before leaving and they all continued to sit in silence.
"I've got it!" Jason said precisely two and a half minutes later. "We'll tell one of the writers! Those guys'd eat this shit up. They're already under NDAs for the show."
Gwen winced. It sounded like a horrible idea. But she didn't have anything better, and two and a half minutes later, when they lined up to make their entrance, no one else had come up with anything else either.
Jason kissed her right before they headed on stage. "It'll be fine," he whispered. "They'll come up with something good, the interview will go great, everyone'll love it. I promise!"
As it turned out, they wanted to interview Gwen and "Jane" together. Sort of a Women Of Galaxy Quest thing. Gwen didn't bother asking if Jason was going to get a solo interview. And probably the cover photo for the article. She just crossed her fingers as she ushered Laliari into the room where the interviewer sat, waiting. To her surprise, it was a woman after all, and she was wearing a discrete but still noticeable Galaxy Quest pin on her lapel. It was from the first annual convention in Baltimore, Gwen noted as she sat down. She had one just like it and a couple of others from subsequent years. The Baltimore Questarians were a good crew.
"Ms. DeMarco, Ms. Doe, it's a pleasure to meet you both," the woman said, holding out her hand to Gwen first (gentle but firm shake, Gwen approved), then Laliari. Fortunately this was a human gesture Laliari had long since gotten good at. She shook the interviewer's hand and took her seat, looking only slightly awkward.
"I'm Lucy Ford. I'll be interviewing you today. We've got a list of questions but please, feel free to ask me to skip one if you'd rather not address it."
Lucy smiled at them and Gwen found herself smiling back. Of course, it wasn't the first time she'd been told she could skip questions. It usually came back to bite her with snide remarks from the interviewer, so she stayed alert.
"So! Let's start off with the most obvious question: How does it feel to be back on the air? Gwen, it's a return for you, and Jane, it's a brand new experience for you!"
This was an easy one. She'd been asked it countless times already and had a rote answer for it.
"It really is amazing," Gwen said, and that wasn't a lie or even an exaggeration. "It's like coming home. Of course, you know, the cast kept in touch, worked together at conventions and appearances, but to be back on the set in these roles is truly wonderful. I hadn't really known how much I missed it until we got the news."
Lucy's grin was definitely genuine, like Gwen had just validated her entire existence. She turned to Laliari then and smiled expectantly. When all Laliari did was smile back, Gwen nudged her with her foot.
"Oh! Yes, I cannot believe I am actually there! It was a dream of mine since I was very young," Laliari said. Gwen held in a sigh of relief. They'd decided to keep things as simple as possible, getting Laliari to tell them about her youth - Thermians went through a semi-larval stage that was sort of equivalent to human childhood. Gwen hadn't really needed the biological details.
"Really?" Lucy asked. "So you were a fan of the show?"
Gwen held her breath, then let it out again when Laliari responded.
"Yes. I was. Back home, many of my friends and family watched the crew like they were our heroes. To work amongst them, it is more than I could ever have hoped." Laliari turned her smile on Gwen for a moment and then smiled widely for Lucy.
"Now, that brings me to another question," Lucy said, checking her notes. "We really haven't heard much about you, Jane. I'm sure our readers would love to know more, especially now that they'll know you're a fan just like them."
Laliari nodded and Gwen hid her crossed fingers under her other hand.
"I am 32 years old. I was born and raised in a small town far away from here and when I was young we watched the adventures of the NSEA Protector. In my family we lived by the ideals from the show and I was homeschooled so I did not know many other people. I wished to be an engineer so I could go and visit far off planets. But now I am an actress."
Lucy stared for a moment, apparently still processing Jane Doe's brief life story. It took a few seconds for her to realize that was all she was getting and then she was apparently right back on track.
"But you play an engineer on the show, so it all worked out! Sounds like your whole family were fans."
Gwen decided that this was a good time to cut in. They really hadn't gone over enough details for Laliari to talk about without risking giving it all away somehow.
"They are!" she said quickly. "Her whole family. It was humbling, you know, to meet people who care so much about our characters and the world of the show. But you know, we do have some of the best fans in the whole world."
Laliari nodded in agreement and Gwen decided that maybe, just maybe, she could let her guard down a little.
"Now," Lucy said. "That brings me to my next question, which was sent in by, ah, several fans. On the new show both of your characters are in relationships with other crewmembers."
Gwen winced internally. Nope. Bad idea to let down her guard. Very bad idea. Computer, raise shields. While she was wincing, Lucy was still talking.
"And you're both also involved with your castmates who play those roles, Jason Nesmith and Fred Kwan. Is it ever hard to separate real life and your life on screen?"
At least it was a softball of a question, lobbed gently in their direction. Gwen could see Lucy waiting for her to cut off that whole area. She'd done it in the past, shutting down any questions about herself and Jason and the assumed romantic plot for Tawny and Commander Taggart. This time, however, she just smiled and nodded.
"You know what, Lucy? It can be hard sometimes. Right Jane? Some days what's happening on set feels so real, we might as well actually be our characters. We just have to remember that they're on screen and we have lives off screen too."
"Yes," Laliari agreed when Gwen nudged her.
Lucy was making some notes and nodded to them both. "Do you mind if we change tack a little? Because as great as it is to know that you're able to keep both your own and your characters' love lives separate, I'd love to ask you both how you feel about your characters being role models for girls everywhere. Jane, your character is an alien who's found acceptance among the crew and you definitely inspire girls interested in the STEM fields. And Gwen, Tawny was just recently promoted to Lieutenant Commander, making her the second in command of the ship. Did you two have any say over those decisions?"
In that moment, Gwen could have reached over and hugged Lucy. As she tried to figure out a way to subtly explain certain things to Laliari she also made a mental note to ask the producers if Lucy could get a guest pass to the set some day. You had to reward your loyal fans somehow.
Gwen had read through the other interviews - they'd asked both Fred and Jason the same relationship question she and Jane had gotten - and she'd read the article that accompanied them. The photo shoot had gone fine and Jason and Alexander had only argued once, which had to be a new record for an interview. The article didn't even mention it, which was fantastic, really. But what thrilled her the most was that not once was her uniform mentioned. Nope. Instead Lucy had kept Gwen's thoughts on women in leadership roles and Laliari's bizarrely insightful comments about engineering. The latter had prompted Lucy to ask about Laliari's education and where she'd studied but that much they'd prepared for, and Laliari had simply said she had studied online. You could do anything online these days. It was truly astounding. Like living in the future.
Galaxy Gals - The ladies of Galaxy Quest talk about the return of the show, romance on set and paving the way for more women on the bridge of the NSEA Protector
"Nice article, Gwen," Jason said, walking right into her trailer like he lived there. Never mind that he practically did and his own was right next door. He picked up the magazine and flipped to Guy's interview. It seemed he had spent much of it cracking jokes and telling outlandish stories. "That interviewer, man, she really knew her stuff."
Gwen took the magazine back and got up to file it away in her other press clippings. "That she did," she agreed. "You know she's the Commander of that fan group in Baltimore? The NSEA Defender?"
"I did know that," Jason said. Of course he did. He probably had every fan ship in the country memorized.
"I was thinking of inviting her to the set some time," Gwen told him. "What do you think?"
Jason grinned. "I think that's the best idea yet. Let's go see if the Commander can wrangle a guest pass."
Gwen edged past him out the trailer door. "Or we can see if they'll give one to the Lieutenant Commander."