Just a minor author's note: This story is already complete, I'm just finally getting around to posting it here. Also, before anyone even thinks it, no, Lucas is not going to have any romantic entanglements in this story.

Midnight found him much the way sunset had. Standing in the same spot, staring into the hypnotic rippling currents of the East River, and wondering about the future.

If he even had a future.

What would he do, after he was kicked off the seaQuest? He had hung all of his hopes and dreams on the ship, and nothing else seemed to make sense. SeaQuest was his only future plan, and every goal he had revolved around the ship somehow.

Unfortunately, his plans really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Heck, he wouldn't even be replaced after they made him leave. He wasn't an essential member of the crew or anything. He was just some annoying kid that everyone had put up with because the UEO told them that they had to. Even his friends there probably wouldn't miss him all that much.

And that was only if they even noticed he was gone.

After all, they had careers aboard the ship. They didn't have lots of extra time to wonder where the annoying kid had gone. Everyone would quite reasonably assume that his father had gone and bought him a new 'job', probably one that put him in less danger.

As if.

Leaning against the railing of the bridge he was standing on, he stared down into the water, as though he could somehow see the bottom if he looked hard enough. Or maybe the answer to his problems.

"Oh. My. God." A familiar voice brought him out of his self-pitying thoughts, and back into the reality of his surroundings. A bad part of New York City, at midnight, and all alone… that probably wasn't good.

And people said he was smart?

Why the hell did anyone say that?

Of course, if the voice was familiar, maybe that was a good thing. He could hope anyway.

"Luke? Is that you?" A heavy New England accent touched every syllable, and it began to bring back memories of years before. How could he have ever forgotten that voice? It was the only thing he had missed, when he had left home. It was one of the only fond memories he had of Buffalo.

Searching out the source, he couldn't help but grin when he found it. "Leslie! What the hell are you doing here?"

His question was answered by a snort, and amused reply, "School, smart guy. Some of us actually don't finish high school 'till after the age of ten."

Blushing a bit, Lucas reminded himself that unlike with most people, Leslie's jibes didn't mean anything. "Well it's not my fault that you needed to spend all that extra time in grammar school. Not that it did any good, I see."

Grinning, Leslie laughed at him. "Yeah. Don't know why they even bothered with me. They shoulda known that I was a lost cause from the start."

"So what are you studying in school? You're going to NYU? How've you been? You look… the same as ever." He knew that he was asking too many questions at once, but he couldn't seem to force his mouth closed. It was a friendly face in his hour of misery, a familiar voice right when he needed it.

A raised eyebrow was the initial response to his barrage of questions, followed by a twice over, and the other eyebrow being raised. "Psychology, yes, fine, and damn Luke, you look silly."

Frowning at the final response, he looked down at his clothes. They may not have been exactly what he would have picked, given a choice, but surely it wasn't that bad. He opened his mouth to defend himself, but a vision of the captain rose up before him like a poltergeist in his brain. The captain, shaking his head sadly, telling him that he had no choice but to ask him to leave the ship.

Screw that.

Frowning even more deeply, he nodded. "Yeah. I look like a tool."

Chuckling, Leslie patted him on the shoulder. "Well, I'm sure there's a reason you're pretending to be Brandon Walsh, Luke. I'm just not sure I want to know what it is."

Opening his mouth to once again protest, he realized that it was true. Sighing, he just shook his head. "So, enough about me. What about you? What are you up to at this time of night, in this part of the city?"

"I was just going to meet some friends. You know, Friday night, big party and all that. You wanna come?"

The question took him by surprise, a bit. He looked at her long and hard, his best friend throughout childhood, much to his family's dismay. Her IQ wasn't even 150, after all! Leslie was just barely five feet tall, five or ten pounds overweight, and had a tendency to slouch a bit, a habit that annoyed his mother to no end. He, of course, had always thought that it was endearing She had dyed her short hair blue-black, and was wearing heavy black eyeliner and blood red lipstick. Her usual long, black, lacy dress completed the look, and it all made him wonder whether going with her would just land him waking up on the floor of her dorm room with a nasty hangover the next morning.

Before visions of the captain could once again overcome his better judgment, he did it himself. "What the hell, why not?"

"Excellent!" She exclaimed loudly, taking his arm and heading back in the direction she had come from. Dragging him along beside her, she commented, "But first, we have to lose the loser garb."