|A Place In This World
Author: Quality-of-Mercy PM
Bridger takes Lucas, Hitchcock, Dr. Westphalen, Ford and Krieg to spend shore leave on his island. Once there, they get caught in a storm and find themselves trapped on the island. Little do they realize that that is the least of their worries...Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Suspense - Chapters: 3 - Words: 5,129 - Reviews: 28 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 05-27-12 - Published: 07-30-11 - id: 7235745
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Thanks to everybody who has read the story so far. I hope you enjoy! And again, many thanks to my excellent beta TattooedLibrarian.
Nathan's island, near Yucatan, 2018.
Lucas held a hand to his stomach, feeling it grumble, groan and growl as a loud and impatient demand for food that was long overdue. They had arrived to Bridger's island about an hour ago and to Lucas it was like stepping into one of those adventure movies he used to watch religiously as a young child, wide eyed and mouth agape. The sun warmed sand felt soft and good to his naked feet and the cool wind and calm breeze was like a tender caress, a gentle whisper in the silence of the early evening hour. It was so different from his hometown of Buffalo, where silence was an unknown and unused language, impossible to learn in the never ceasing crowd of everybody and anybody. Now silence was all he heard and it was like a soft, soothing song lulling him into a still sense of tranquility. The island was bigger than he had imagined, with a wooden house situated on a sandy, golden beach with mountains and palm trees rising behind it as far as the eye could see. A burning ball of blinding red fire sank behind the tree line, painting the landscape with colors of purple and the remnants of a fleeting summer day.
Lucas sighed and sank deeper down into his kitchen chair. He was suspicious of the items he held in his hands, but he still clutched them tightly, like a baby clinging to his favorite blanket. When Kristin asked him if he could put up some string lights on the patio he had jumped on it instantly. He was pleased with anything that made him feel useful, that made him more than just the burden he always felt like, but now, as he held the tiny lights in his hands, he wasn't so sure anymore. The lights looked old, almost antique, slightly torn and weather-worn, as if they hadn't been used in years and Lucas silently and apprehensively wondered if they were safe to use.
"Where do you want these, Captain?" He held up the bundle of lights and turned around in his chair, "Outside on the patio or sent back to the 60s where they rightly belong?" He raised an eyebrow as he eyed the captain and a playful smile was starting to form on his lips.
Nathan rolled his eyes and pointed towards the patio "Get on it, Lucas. We don't have all day," he said sternly, but let a small chuckle escape as he started preparing the meat for the grill and the vegetables for the salad.
Kristin watched the boy trying to untangle the lights from their numerous knots and tousles and leaning in closer to Nathan she whispered "Excuse me for a minute while I go and check on the grill," she paused and lowered her voice even more, "I'm a little apprehensive about leaving Krieg with a lighter and fuel. You never know what – or who – he might set on fire," she said, rolling her eyes and sighing while holding back a half-smile.
"Why do you think Katie and Jonathan are out there watching him like a hawk?" he asked while pointing his thumb over his shoulder at his crew standing on the patio. They both grinned at this, and Kristin let her arm carefully slip around his waist but quickly retracted it when she noticed him stiffen, not returning the sudden but tender act of affection. On her way out she passed Lucas, who triumphantly held up the now untangled string of lights.
"If Krieg hasn't managed to set something on fire yet, give him these," he said with mock horror, "chances are they are going to catch on fire as soon as you plug them in", he added sarcastically at her quizzical gaze, still being suspicious of the old-fashioned lights with their antique look. "If we're lucky we'll live through the night", he joked and ducked when he saw a piece of cucumber coming flying through the room from Nathan's direction.
"Boys." Kristen muttered under her breath as she grabbed the lights from Lucas' hand, once again shaking her head as she exited the kitchen.
A calmness settled in the room and as Lucas registered the rich and summery smell of marinade, making his stomach growl in response, he felt the familiar feelings of sadness well up inside his chest, like ripples in a stream. On the boat he could do magic with just a few lines of code and open doors to new worlds with just a click of his finger. Behind the screen he knew the spells to all things possible. But here, stripped of all technology, he felt like a soldier without his word, like fire without flames. He silently wondered when he would crack the code of friendship and why it always seemed to rewrite itself as soon as he learned the language. He so badly wanted to make the Captain proud, to show his father that he wasn't as bad as he believed him to be and to be more than just a child in a world of grown-ups, but how do you prove yourself worthy to a captain who has seen it all and how do you make yourself visible to a father who never saw you in the first place and how in the world do you ever learn to play the part of a role you never even read the script for?
Lucas suddenly looked up and turned to face his Captain.
"Who was that man you were talking to earlier? Before we left for your island," he asked and slowly rubbed his hands together, unsure if the question was appropriate but too curious and intrigued to take much notice.
Nathan turned around and froze on the spot, as if the question had been a shot that momentarily paralyzed him.
"Henley? He was a good friend of my wife's. You remember the small village we drove through before we came to the harbor? Well, he has lived there for as long as I can remember. Carol and I used to go there on vacation every chance we got."
Nathan walked across the kitchen floor and took a seat next to Lucas. Leaning forward, he put his hands on knees, keeping the tone of his voice quiet and calm.
"Many years ago, Carol, Robert and I experienced some difficulties and we needed to get away for a while. Henley was the one who recommended this place, this island, and I suppose it became a sort of shelter for us, for various reasons." Nathan's voice trailed off, he shifted in his seat and for a moment he looked as if he was about to say something more but decided against it.
Lucas was listening quietly and respectfully. He knew about Carol, how she had died too young and how her death had affected the Captain. He silently wondered what kind of difficulties had prompted them to get away and so far away, but he kept quiet, not wanting to pry or upset the Captain.
"I haven't talked to or visited Henley since-" Nathan took a deep breath, as if reluctant to speak the next words to come out of his mouth, "Since Carol passed away. We lost touch over the years and quite frankly, I think part of him always blamed me for Carol's death and for…Well, I believe he blamed me for a lot of things regarding Carol. To tell you the truth, it was rather bittersweet to see him today."
"But why is he blaming you? I mean, Captain, you did everything you could to save her."
"I was never certain and I spent years questioning myself, Lucas. Could I have realized she was ill sooner? Could I have taken her to the hospital quicker? Wasn't I attentive enough? Henley, I believe, asked the same questions. I know today that I did everything I could, but sometimes everything isn't enough and you are always left wondering.
Lucas flashed back to a crystal cold December night over ten years ago. He was five years old, it was his birthday and the day before Christmas Eve. He was standing on a lone porch somewhere in a snowy Buffalo, holding the hand of a stranger he had forgotten the name of. It was one of those crisp, ice-cold nights, when the falling snow fell apart in your hand like dust in the wind and the hairs in your nose froze and you could barely recognize the scents of cinnamon and mulled wine from the neighborhood houses. He watched his parents hurry past him, carrying suitcases and laptops and heavy coats, their shoes crunching in the hard-packed snow, their waves of goodbye and the small words of "we'll see you in a couple of weeks darling". Christmas was his favorite time of the year. Not because of the presents or the food or the snow, but because it was the only time of the year he was allowed to spend a day with his parents. But this year they were leaving, off to a conference in Genève they said. It was important and essential and oh-so crucial to their research and they were sure he would understand. He had done everything in his power to make them stay. He had begged them, promised them he would be good, and promised he wouldn't disturb them. Everything. But here he still was, ice-cold hands clutching a teddy bear on a lone porch somewhere in a snowy Buffalo, watching their silhouettes fade like shadows at dusk as they rounded a corner and were gone in a heartbeat. He was frozen to the bone, but he still remembered how he fought against a flood in his eyes and the taste of salt in his mouth as he lost the fight. The Captain was right, sometimes everything wasn't enough and he spent his whole childhood wondering why.
The feeling of someone carefully rubbing the back of his neck brought him back to reality and he flinched, not used to that kind of affection and attention.
"Are you all right, Lucas? You seemed a million miles away." Deep brown eyes searched his for an answer and he managed a smile and nodded his yes.
"Yeah, I was just thinking about this island. How long do you reckon it would take to hike around it? And, um- what do you think is hidden on the other side of it?" He tried to sound interested, as if he was genuinely curious. As if the question was genuinely his.
Nathan had a look of surprise, mild disbelieve and slight bemusement on his face. "Hidden? And I didn't know you were interested in hiking, Lucas".
"Why don't you tell Ben that there's most likely nothing at all on the other side of the island and there's most definitely not any gold, diamonds or fairy-tale treasures hidden there."
Nathan's smile faded a little and he looked serious for a while. "Really, Lucas. I tried to hike around the island once but the terrain is rough, dangerous and challenging. No matter what Ben or anyone else tells you, I want you all to stay here on the beach, okay?"
Lucas picked up on a certain urgency and firmness in the Captain's voice and quickly nodded.
"Curiosity killed the cat and all that, huh"
Nathan tapped the tip of the boy's nose. "Something like that".
He then smiled and proceeded to put an arm around his young computer whiz, leading him towards the patio. "Come on, let's get this barbecue rolling, Lucas. Your stomach tells me you've waited long enough". Sighing, he mumbled "and let's go see how much damage Krieg has done with the lighter and how badly Katie, Kristin and Jonathan need the fire extinguisher." He raised an eyebrow in mock-seriousness and they both shared a smile before walking out to join their crew mates.
A/N: The story is slightly AU in the sense that in my story, Nathan moves to the island together with Robert and Carol whereas in canon he moves to it after the passing of Carol.
I'm focusing on building the story and the characters here in the beginning but there will be more action later on, for those of you who like that.
Thanks to everybody who has reviewed and commented on the story. It's much appreciated.