OK I know I said this was finished but I wasn't happy with how I ended it. I like the angsty stories but it's hard not to descend into mush. This is only my second fic so I'm still working it out. So anyway here's one last chapter.
Hey Sara, now you can be late for work one more time! After that you'll have to blame the bus, or the flat tyre, or the traffic jam, or the landlord, or the next door neighbour's dog or whatever else you can think up.
Enjoy! And yes it really is finished this time. :-)
Lucas was surprised at just how anxious he felt on the short ride out to the island. The seaQuest had made it into port the day before and the first priority was to get the captain seen to by the neurosurgeon. Doctor Hendriks had kept a close eye on the reports being relayed through to him since the captain's surgery but there was no substitute for a face to face consultation. Having declared him fit to leave for the island for some recuperation time, Kristin had wasted no time in making it happen.
Lucas sat and stared across the shuttle, unwilling to look out at the water. Bridger sat beside him and wondered just what was going through his mind. He had tried unsuccessfully to strike up a conversation and he finally decided there wasn't much he could do for Lucas at the moment. He had no recollection of their shuttle trip that had ended in near disaster except for vague flashes of disjointed memories. The only thing that was crystal clear to him was the sight of Lucas' frightened face.
"It's no wonder he's so tense," he thought as he observed how tightly wound Lucas was.
Ben had also kept a close eye on Lucas as they had boarded the shuttle and he too had noticed how Lucas had stiffened slightly and paused in the doorway before heading for a seat in the back of the shuttle.
It was a surprisingly quiet trip as nobody seemed inclined to talk much. Everyone seemed relieved when the tiny island came into view and Ben smoothly maneuvered the small craft into the landing dock. As Lucas climbed out onto the decking he smiled as he saw Darwin had already made it home. He watched silently as the gray shadow leaped from the water and flipped effortlessly through the air. He never grew tired of watching the graceful antics of dolphins at play. Bridger watched him from behind and was relieved to see the tension easing out of Lucas' shoulders as he watched Darwin's greeting.
"This was a good idea," he whispered to Kristin and she just raised her eyebrows at him as if to say, "I told you so."
"Why don't you head up to the house and I'll bring the bags up?" Ben said as he began to drop luggage on the deck. He knew neither Lucas nor the captain were in any shape to be carrying anything and he wanted them settled inside as soon as possible. Bridger nodded at him and began the slow walk along the dock. He had been up and about for a few days but he still felt dizzy after walking for more than a few minutes. Kristin assured him that it would pass but it was frustrating all the same.
Lucas had already headed down to where he could reach Darwin and was sitting with his feet dangling in the water. Darwin swam in lazy circles around the pylons and Lucas seemed to be relaxing at last. Bridger had been worried by his reaction in the shuttle that Lucas may be hesitant to get back in the water but it didn't seem to be bothering him now.
As if reading his mind, Kristin leaned in and nodded at Lucas, "Give him some time. He'll be fine." She smiled encouragingly and they continued on towards the house as Ben came back for a second load. He needed to get back to the seaQuest but he wasn't going until he was sure they had everything they might need.
The submarine had made it through the last week running on temporary repairs but now it was heading into dry dock to be given the once over. He had a comprehensive list of supplies that Katie had given him and he knew he was going to have trouble getting them all. As he carried the last of the bags upstairs he was glad that Lucas was going to get some time here with the captain. He knew they had things to sort out and being away from the confines of the seaQuest seemed like a good place to do it.
The sound of rushing water was deafening and the walls seemed to be closing in around him. He watched helplessly as Lucas struggled with the life raft and tried to yell a warning as he saw a monstrous wave that threatened to engulf the boy. No sound came out and he felt like he was sinking in something. His legs wouldn't move and he reached out desperately to Lucas. He watched in horror as the shuttle disintegrated around him and Lucas seemed to be swallowed by the darkness.
He jolted out of the dream with that sickening sensation that happens between a nightmare and waking up. It took a few seconds to realise he had been dreaming but he couldn't shake the feeling of dread. His heart was still racing and as he wiped his face he realised he was covered in sweat. For some reason he felt an overwhelming urge to check for himself that Lucas was all right.
Bridger slowly headed down the hall to Lucas' room and softly pushed the door open. It was hard to see in the dark but he knew the layout of this room and he confidently headed over to the bed. He hoped that Lucas hadn't left anything lying on the floor otherwise this secret visit wouldn't be a secret for long. He was surprised to see the bed hadn't been slept in yet and he wondered where Lucas could be.
Lucas sat in the dark and listened to the sounds of the ocean outside. The rhythmic pounding of the waves on the shoreline was soothing from this distance. It seemed strange given that the same sound had been so terrifying the night he had spent clinging onto rocks. He was startled from his thoughts as he realised someone was coming down the stairs.
"Lucas? Are you down there?" He heard the captain's voice and noted the worried edge to it.
"Over here," he called back. "In the lounge."
Bridger slowly came down the last of the stairs and even in the dark Lucas could tell it was an effort.
"Couldn't sleep, huh?" he asked as he sat down next to Lucas.
"I can't seem to get my mind to turn off," he sighed.
"And I can't seem to get mine to turn on." Even in the dark Lucas could hear the smile in the captain's voice. "Wanna swap?"
Lucas couldn't help but laugh at the image.
"Captain … do you …do you remember anything of what happened to us?"
"Only images, just flashes really. I know we were hit by shockwaves from the earthquake. I remember waking up on the beach with the lifejacket tied around my arm. I couldn't get it off."
"Yeah, sorry about that. I didn't have a whole lot of time to get it on you. Everything was getting washed out of the shuttle."
"So how did we get separated? I thought you said we made it to the life raft." Bridger felt Lucas stiffen beside him and he wasn't sure if he was going to get an answer.
"The raft … hit the rocks and ripped apart. I woke up in the water and you …" Lucas found himself struggling to breathe and the captain waited for him to regain his composure. "You were gone. I made it to the rocks but I couldn't swim in the dark so I stayed there."
"All night?" Bridger was stunned to realise how long Lucas had been in the water alone.
"In the morning I tried to swim from the reef but my legs were so cold and I had trouble getting there. I kept going under and I didn't think I was going to make it."
Slowly realisation dawned that if he kept going under, Lucas wasn't wearing a life jacket. Why not?
"Where was your life jacket?"
Lucas didn't answer immediately but finally he quietly said, "I didn't have one. It got washed away before I could get it on. I only had one left and … and you were unconscious and I couldn't keep you afloat otherwise."
Bridger couldn't believe what he was hearing. Not only did Lucas drag him out of the shuttle but he did it without regard for his own safety. He had been given some of the details of what had happened but this wasn't one of them. He felt himself shudder as he realised how close Lucas came to drowning. "Because of me! And I repaid him by scaring the hell out of him!"
The two of them sat in silence for a while, each one lost in their thoughts.
"You said I was talking to you as though you were Robert." Lucas screwed up his face as he recalled his outburst from the other day. He was glad it was dark and the captain couldn't see his embarrassment. It felt like such a childish response now but at the time he hadn't realised how much it had affected him.
He didn't feel at all sure how his own father felt about him but he had been fairly confident about the captain's feelings towards him. The idea that he could be forgotten had hit him hard. He had never felt like he could replace the captain's son but it seemed like he had been rejected when the captain didn't know who he was. His deep memories of Robert had surfaced and Lucas felt pushed out of the picture.
"Lucas, did you hear me?"
"Huh?" The captain had been speaking and he had missed it.
"I said, I know I frightened you but I'm still not really sure what made you so angry the other day."
Lucas hesitated before answering but decided there was no getting out of this. The captain would only ask him again if he didn't get a real answer.
"It felt like … like you had Robert back and you didn't need me anymore."
"It's never been a competition you know," Bridger said as he leaned over and pulled Lucas into a hug. At first he stiffened but gradually he relaxed and leaned back against the captain. He had waited too long for this and now he didn't want to let go.
Kristin stood by the lounge and smiled at the sight in front of her. She thought about waking them up but decided against it. She was startled by the sound of the vidphone in the next room and she moved quickly to answer it before either of them woke up.
She recognised the face on the screen even though she had never met Lucas' father. As she quickly smoothed over the surprised look on her face she noted the distressed look on his.
"Doctor Westphalen I presume. I'm Lawrence Wolenczak. I was told my son is with you and Captain Bridger. I've been out of contact on a research assignment and the UEO has just called me to let me know what happened with Lucas. Is he all right?" Kristin was surprised by the urgency in his voice but then she smiled and assured him that Lucas was going to be fine and he was sleeping at the moment.
"Please tell him I'm on my way there. I should be there in about six hours. My shuttle is waiting for me so I have to go. And Doctor… please tell my son I love him."