written for the Yuletide Treasure fic exchange in 2008.
Thespians, Aliens and a
Damn, Stupid Hammer
Alexander sipped from his glass--single malt liquor,
unbelievably smooth, little burn. He'd found himself turning to that
more evenings than he cared to admit. He didn't get drunk. Getting
drunk was far too pedestrian a thing to do. Jason would get drunk and
Alexander purposefully avoided doing anything that Jason was likely to
do, in almost every conceivable situation. He indulged in a few sips to
take the edge off, to try to help him forget. Or at least blur the
memories a little bit.
It never worked.
Why had he been so brusque with the boy? He chuckled
humorlessly, because he knew Quellek hadn't really been a boy, or even
a man, but an alien creature of who knew what age. Still, he'd appeared
as little more than a very young man--definitely someone Alexander
could think of as a boy considering he'd started thinking of men in
their 20s and even early 30s as boys.
I'm getting old, he thought. He wondered how old Quellek had
been. He wondered many things about Quellek, all of which he'd probably
know the answers to if only he hadn't been such an ass. Why had he made
such a big deal of him saying that damn, stupid line?
By Grabthar's Hammer . . . .
What had it hurt, anyway? They were only words. Only words.
He clung to the memory of Quellek's smile. Alexander knew that
was definitely part of the reason he seemed so boyish. All of the
Thermians appeared quite youthful, and their glowing innocence made
them seem even younger than the physical attributes they'd chosen, but
Quellek's smile, Alexander thought, had been different from the rest.
He couldn't help smile when he thought of how Quellek looked
when he'd first met him. Of course, Alexander had been busy not dying
at the time, after being transported to the Thermian ship in a manner
which he later described as more heart-attack inducing than even the
idea of Jason performing Shakespeare. Then he'd had to endure being
"molested by gibbering, hardware-wielding octopi," as he'd ranted often
He'd also been busy being furious with Jason, and just being
angry and put-off in general as was his lot in life, after all.
But though he gave no indication of it, he'd noticed Quellek
immediately. Quellek's open-mouthed awe of them had reminded Alexander
of a little boy seeing something amazing for the first time--a coin
vanished into the air and retrieved from behind the ear, perhaps. More
Quellek's mouth had worked like he wanted to say something,
and his eyes had been comically wide. Alexander remembered noticing him
and his awe, and feeling impatient rather than appreciative. He
remembered how Quellek had smiled so proudly at him as he passed in the
corridor when Mathesar was giving them a tour, explaining that their
organ fabrication chambers were almost ready.
Quellek had looked at him and positively beamed. He smiled at
him that way several times during dinner. And when Quellek showed him
to his quarters later, he'd been so excited. Excited, and honored. And
Alexander had viewed his affection as little more than a nuisance.
Why, he thought, why did I have to be such a
The smile that he thought of most, even though he didn't want
to, was the smile Quellek gave him when Alexander finally said those
words about that damnable Hammer. It brought Quellek great joy, and the
smile he'd given Alexander was such that the memory of it could make
his chest ache. Yet, the joy Quellek felt was cold comfort for
Alexander. Having the boy--why did he have to keep thinking of him as
that?--tell him he'd always thought of him as a father and then die in
his arms . . . he had so much to make up for, but he couldn't. It was
too late for that.
He fingered the skull cap he'd worn as Dr. Lazarus on the
original show and later at conventions and ribbon cuttings. He had a
new one now, kept at the studio, of course. He didn't even know why he
kept this one. He slid his fingers down the curves that looked like
fins, the whorls that looked like the inside of a seashell.
"Tev'Mek," he said, pausing between the words that some writer
had dreamed up to name his character's home world. He said it again,
exaggerated the consonants, and held his lips together, drawing out the
'em' sound. He spit them out, as if they were a curse.
He took another sip and rubbed his hand over his forehead. "By
Grabthar's Hammer, Quellek. . . I shall . . . I . . . I'm so sorry."
Two months later, on the set of the new and improved Galaxy
Quest, Alexander knew the precise moment that Quellek was reborn.
He had to admit that the term reborn was not accurate. But he
refused to think of it any other way, out of principle.
They'd been about to film a scene in which they were all
trapped on the bridge by an entity that had taken control of the
Protector's computer system. He found himself later glad that all of
them, even Guy, were there when it happened because like their
experience with the Thermians, it was something amplified by the fact
that it was shared.
The first to react had been Laliari. Her eyes closed and her
body stiffened, and Alexander wondered for a moment if that's what it
looked like when a Thermian had a stroke. But before Fred had even
finished asking her if she was all right, she relaxed and smiled at
them, more sweetly than usual, which was saying something.
And then Alexander felt it. And at first wondered if this was
what it felt like when an aging Shakespearean actor playing a spaceman
had a stroke. There was a pop inside his head; not an unpleasant one,
but one that seemed to be within him and without at the same time. Brain
aneurism, he thought. Weak artery, burst vessel.
And then he simply knew that Quellek was alive.
He turned to look at Gwen. "Is there a part of the human brain
that can burst like a balloon and cause one to go instantly mad?"
But Gwen had an expression on her face that he guessed matched
his own. She'd felt it, too. They all had. Quellek hadn't been the only
death during the battle with Sarris, just the one that mattered most to
Alexander. Yet, when he thought back to the others he'd seen die, he
knew they were alive as well.
It was as if his memory of the deaths was a mistake, and had
been overwritten by the image of them not dying, almost like a
double-exposure on film. The new image was stacked on top of the old,
merged with it.
"Bathroom break, guys," Jason said to the crew. "Sorry,
emergency. Tried a new restaurant last night, so . . . it's gonna be a
while. Have a snack or a nap, or something."
Alexander and the rest of the cast raced off the set behind
Jason, and Alexander would have laughed at how absurd they probably
appeared to the crew if he'd really cared what any of the crew thought.
They stood in a crude circle, all talking at once, and finally
all looking at their resident Thermian. Laliari could give them no
explanation. She felt the same thing as they did, only stronger, but
did not know how it was possible. So they threw out theories and
explanations of their own.
Alexander was preoccupied with thoughts of Quellek not being
dead. He was reborn--that was his immediate impression. Maybe he had a
chance to apologize, to do things right.
Jason shook his head. "Only they weren't really reborn,
Alexander, it was more like their deaths were reversed."
"The terminology doesn't matter, Jason," Gwen said.
Alexander shook his head. "No, it does matter. They were here
before, then not here, now they're here again. Reborn."
Jason waved his hand as he talked. "That makes it sound like
they'll have to start all over as little baby Thermians. Their deaths
were reversed. No, no . . . how about, their deaths were undone." He
raised his eyebrows.
"So you're not only the lead, Jason, with the best scenes and
the best lines, but we all have to abide by your catch phrases? Have
you ever heard of brevity? Reborn!"
Gwen closed her eyes. "For God's sake."
Tommy shouted. "They're undead! All right? All I'm worried
about is if that Sarris has been all undeaded, too, and if he knows
where we all live."
Fred half-smiled and spoke extra slowly, because he was
excited. "They're not undead." He chuckled. "They're not zombies." He
looked at Laliari. "Are they . . . zombies?"
Gwen shook her head. "But if Sarris had come back, we'd have
felt that too, wouldn't we?"
Alexander sighed when he realized he looked to Jason for the
answer, just as the rest of them did.
"My memory of shooting Sarris at the convention is still
there," Jason said, "with no shadow on top of it of him not dying."
Alexander nodded. "Right. Mine, too."
Tommy agreed, whooped, and high-fived Fred.
Guy put his arm around Gwen's shoulders and sniffed. "This is
beautiful. Truly, I am so moved right now."
Alexander merely glared at Jason. Jason smiled back at him,
which made it worse.
Since they'd returned from the Thermian ship, things had been
different between them--things had been different for all of them, each
in his or her own way. But though things were different, Alexander was
still who he was. He still had a character to play, a role to perform.
If he didn't break out into a rant about things like the frequency with
which Jason removed his shirt on camera, things would be too different.
Things would be uncomfortable.
Now, however, he could insult Jason's acting ability, complain
about his lines (though never again about that one particular line) and
bemoan his stage career, and smile back at Jason's wink once his tirade
was exhausted. Not today, though. While he might have been amused at
their argument on any other day, now he was having too hard a time
holding himself in. If he let his guard down for even a moment, he'd
display genuine emotion at the idea that Quellek was alive. He didn't
want to do that in front of everyone. So to avoid that, he stayed
Quellek was alive. He couldn't believe it, yet he knew it was
true. Somehow the Thermians had undone the deaths caused by Sarris and
his warriors. Their deaths were undone . . . yes, that was better than
reborn, but he would only ever admit that to himself.
He didn't know what it all meant, how it was possible, only
that it was. Knowing Quellek was alive made everything easier. But he
still ached for the chance to undo the rest, or make up for it.
Alexander didn't answer the phone. But when he heard the
message, he left immediately. Within seconds he was back. He fingered
the bony ridges on his Dr. Lazarus prosthetic cap, and took the time to
put it on properly.
In the end, Mathesar had thought Jason's claim that they were
pretending had been a lie to fool Sarris. And maybe he never had
figured out the truth. The day would come, he supposed, when they would
have to explain who they really were and make Mathesar and the rest
believe it. But until then, they only knew him as Dr. Lazarus from
"Tev'Mek." He said the words aloud, and rushed to Jason's.
As he'd hoped, Quellek was there. When the boy saw him, he
saluted in the Thermian way and beamed. Alexander saluted back, with
only the slightest smile on his face.
Acting, he thought. I'm an actor. I can do this.
Five minutes into Quellek's breathless explanation of the new
Omega device, Alexander grabbed him, hugged him and said, "I'm
genuinely happy to see you."
Quellek hugged him back, a bit awkwardly at first, and then
quick learner that he was he returned it fully. Alexander merely
listened to him talking, always with a smile, about the Omega 13, about
Sarris, all that had happened before his death, and about the new Omega
X that the Thermians designed under Mathesar's direction to right the
wrongs committed against them by Sarris.
Then Mathesar explained the device to all of them. Unlike the
Omega 13 that would loop back to 13 seconds ago, the Omega X could be
used selectively, to undo parts of the recent past. And the Thermians
had used it to bring back their dead from the battle with Sarris.
Apparently, they'd managed to undo the moments of death for each of
them without altering anything that came after.
When Mathesar had explained everything, he finished by saying,
"Never give upnnnnnnnever surrender."
Jason proposed a toast. "That's right, Mathesar. Never give
up, never surrender. Not even after you're dead. Now that's persistence
Alexander was sure that whatever they had done would someday
prove to have been a mistake and cause some sort of cataclysmic
universal devastation having to do with alternate realities or
anti-matter or some such sci-fi nonsense. But he couldn't bring himself
to care. Quellek was alive.
And now, Quellek asked to see his home.
"My . . . home?" Alexander said. Surely they had to reveal the
truth at some point. He had a feeling that with all the Thermians had
been through, they could take it. They were childlike, but all children
have to grow up.
It had been easy enough for Quellek to get permission to stay,
for at least a while. Mathesar explained to Alexander that Quellek had
spoken of little but "how . . . you . . . avenged him." Apparently,
those who were lost and now brought back had memories much like a
double-exposed photograph, too. So Quellek remembered Alexander's
reaction after he died. How he'd attacked the shooter, and then gone on
punching, kicking, chopping, headbutting and yes, even biting, his way
through the rest of them. The pain of Quellek's death had fueled that,
but he didn't tell the boy how his rage at himself for having treated
him so kept him going, too.
After Alexander showed Quellek his apartment, which seemed to
baffle Quellek more than anything, he tried to explain it all as gently
as possible. When he took a deep breath and removed the skull cap that
made him look like a native of Tev'Mek, Quellek shouted and shot up
from his chair.
Alexander put a calming hand on his shoulder. "I know it looks
like I've just peeled myself, but it's all right. This is how I really
Quellek reached up and touched Alexander's hair. "Soft," he
Quellek took a step forward, and Alexander dropped his head
and looked to the floor. He put his hand over Quellek's that still
touched his hair and lowered it to the boy's side. "Let me show you
where you can sleep. We'll talk more in the morning."
He let Quellek have his bed, and instead of having to explain
why he didn't sleep on spikes as Quellek believed Dr. Lazarus did, he
merely said that sometimes he liked to switch off to keep things
interesting. That seemed to satisfy the boy.
He slept on the couch, and wondered if he'd really seen what
he'd imagined in Quellek's expression. He thought for a moment that
Quellek was going to kiss him. Surely not. But it was clear that his
hero worship had only deepened after "seeing" Alexander avenge him. It
seemed less like hero worship now than actual, well, something else.
"Infatuation," he said to himself. "That's all it is. Go to
sleep you old, dramatic fool."
When Quellek emerged from the bedroom the next morning, he
approached Alexander, saluted him, and gave him a hearty hug like he'd
learned the night before. "I am genuinely happy to see you," Quellek
said. Alexander laughed and hugged him back.
During lunch, Fred and Laliari sat across from Alexander and
Quellek. Fred said something about a Thermian family reunion, and as
she often did, Laliari kissed him on the cheek. Alexander played his
role. "You can always try Sea World if you want to adopt."
Fred laughed, because Fred always laughed, no matter what you
said to him. And then Quellek kissed Alexander on the cheek, just as
Laliari had done to Fred. Only then did Alexander realize that his ire
with the two of them probably sprang more from jealousy than anything
else. They were so affectionate with one another, and he'd walked into
a room more than once when they clearly expected no one to walk into
"Of all the sights to take to my grave," he'd ranted, "the
sight of the two of you . . . interlocking doesn't top my list."
He'd never really caught them doing anything too intimate, but
it made him bristle even to see them hold hands or kiss, most of the
time. Now, he thought he knew why. Quellek had been openly affectionate
with him. Though not physical at the time, the affection was still
And like everyone else who had been affectionate with him,
Alexander could never handle it being open, where others could see. It
hadn't been quite as bad in his theater days. People assumed that most
men who donned tights and stage makeup were gay anyway, so there was
little stigma. It had been when he joined Galaxy Quest that he was so
suddenly aware of everyone watching, and taking notes. And for all the
disdain he displayed toward fans of the show and pop culture in
general, he'd cared what they thought. He didn't want to be criticized,
or disapproved of, despite his bravado. And he knew that so many would.
He'd rarely had relationships that lasted longer than a few
months after that, and he couldn't blame his former lovers for moving
on. Who wanted to feel loved only when they were in private, and rarely
even earn a loving smile from his partner in public?
That was a great deal of his resentment with the show, he knew
it. More than that stupid line, or playing second fiddle to Jason's
bare chest and Gwen's barely restrained breasts. What it did to his
private life was ultimately what made him hate it. And it had been
entirely his fault for caring. For wanting his fame.
Even if he'd met someone like Quellek under ideal
circumstances now, he was a creature of habit. So it was only natural
that Alexander had initially disregarded the affection Quellek had
shown him on the ship. He'd wasted it, and then realized he wanted it
back. Laliari and Fred had what he could never have, not even in
private now, because Quellek was dead.
No. Quellek had been dead. Now he was alive, sitting
next to him, looking at him with those big eyes and that too-sweet
smile. A smile that was starting to finally push out everything else,
and make the rest less significant. He looked at Quellek for a long
time, smiling back, amazed that there was no awkwardness in doing so.
And he really came this close to saying to hell with it all, and
kissing him right then and there. This close.
Finally, Fred tapped the table and smiled at Alexander. "It's
obvious, you know. It is. Just . . . go with it. The squiggly . . . "
he grabbed his wrist and wobbled his hand back forth, " . . . you know,
you get used to it."
The writers, at Jason's urging, had thrown in a few lines
about a brother Laliari hadn't seen since before they'd found her all
alone hustling for beryllium on a dusty little planet in Parsec 5, so
Quellek remained on the set. He'd taken to it quickly, which encouraged
Alexander. Maybe it would be easier for him to understand the concept
of what they were doing, now that he was experiencing it. Laliari had
finally understood in at least some small way, and she had no less
affection for Fred or any of them because of it.
They'd been back on set for about half an hour, and Alexander
noticed Gwen smiling at him oddly between takes. No, not just smiling,
smiling and nodding every time he caught her eye. He grimaced at her,
wondering what had gotten into her knickers.
Then he heard Guy saying, "I don't even--another one?
That's just wrong." He turned to see Fred talking to him. Laliari
smiled and waved.
Alexander spun to see Tommy grinning and giving him a thumbs
up. He gasped and turned back to his science console, refusing to even
look at Jason. He could only imagine what Jason might be doing.
Probably dry humping the command chair and wiggling his eyebrows.
They continued filming, with Alexander not even looking at
Jason when it was called for in the script. He looked at his nose, or
his chin, or that spot between his eyes where Alexander thought he
really should consider tweezing lest he start to sport a
Later, as he and Quellek were leaving, he had to push the
boy's hand down when he reached up to touch Alexander's hair again,
"Alexander! Wait a minute," Jason called from behind him.
Alexander stopped, let his head fall to the side, and rolled
his eyes. At least he'd managed to avoid this most of the afternoon, he
thought. When Jason reached him, Alexander looked at him expectantly.
"It wouldn't be a problem for them to write Quellek into the
show, you know."
Alexander stared at him, waiting for the punch line. He came
close to filling some in for him. But then Jason clapped his shoulder,
smiled--genuinely smiled--and said, "Be happy, okay?" And then he
saluted Quellek, who saluted back, and he turned to walk away.
"Why . . . thank you, Jason," he said, stunned by the man's
sincerity. But before Jason got too far away, Alexander got a hold of
himself. "And--and it's reborn, you talentless hack!"
Jason returned Alexander's smile. "Today, old friend, I'll
give you that."
Later, once they were back at Alexander's apartment, they'd
barely gotten in and hadn't even sat down, but Quellek seemed about to
burst. "It is all right, then?"
"That I . . . kissed your cheek? To behave like Laliari, that
is . . . agreeable to you?" He tentatively covered Alexander's hand
with his own and then cradled it in both his hands, a gesture Fred and
Laliari often shared.
Alexander looked at Quellek for a long time, trying to come up
with something more impressive than "oh, yes." Quellek apparently took
his hesitation for displeasure and pulled his hands away. That forced
Alexander out of his stupor.
"No, don't do that," he said, as he recaptured Quellek's hand
and pulled it to his chest. "It is agreeable, Quellek, I promise you."
Quellek still looked uncertain. Alexander knew just how to
banish that uncertainty.
"By Grabthar's Hammer, by the suns of Warvan, Quellek, it is
agreeable to me."
"More than agreeable," he stressed. Then he leaned forward and
kissed the boy. Alexander intentionally kept it simple and almost
chaste, but Quellek opened his mouth against the kiss, surprising him.
He enjoyed it for a moment, then pulled back with his eyebrows raised.
"Laliari explained some things to me, Dr. Lazarus," he said,
then he kissed Alexander again.
Alexander groaned and stepped back, squinting. He put his hand
on his forehead and plopped down, letting his head loll against the
back of the couch.
Quellek was immediately at his side. "Doctor? Are you all
right? Did I do something wrong?"
"God, no," Alexander said, and took one of Quellek's hand in
his, pulling it back to his chest again. "You've . . . you're perfect,
it's not you. I'm just waiting for another pop in my brain to reveal
that I'm in a coma or padded room and all this has been nothing more
than a fevered delusion."
"I--I don't understand. But, did you say . . . perfect? You
are perfect, Dr. Lazarus, not me. I have so many things I need to
"No, Quellek, trust me, to me you're perfect. But, will you
please call me Alexander? That's my real name, my name when I'm . . .
away from Galaxy Quest. Alexander Dane."
Quellek tilted his head a little. "Alexander," he said, as if
trying it out. "Alexander Dane. I like that. But I don't understand.
You have many things to teach me, Dr. Laz--Alexander."
"Yes, I know. Many things."
Alexander realized that Quellek was very much more like a man
than a boy after all, when Quellek leaned over and kissed him, pressing
their bodies close.
"Say it for me," Alexander said.
Quellek merely looked at him, confused.
"You know what I mean." Alexander took his hands and sat up
straight. "I stopped you before, and I shouldn't have. I was a right
bastard to you, and you didn't deserve that. So please, I want to hear
you say it. By Grabthar's Hammer . . . ."
Quellek straightened and squeezed Alexander's hands. "By
Grabthar's Hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be . . . avenged."
he gave Alexander one of those bright smiles and in that moment,
Alexander wished he had someone to become angry at to avoid the sappy
thought he couldn't help, that his heart had been reborn. Or more
accurately, he thought, its death had been undone.
"No one has ever said it better." Alexander pulled
Quellek to him for a kiss. "I love that line."