Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who left nice reviews. I really, truly appreciate them. Certainly wouldn't continue without them, but all the same, I'm sorry this is taking so long. Understand though, I prefer quality over speed, and I even think this was rushed and a bit poor, but hopefully it will suffice. Anyway, I'm in college at the moment, with lots of homework and practical work, so I don't know when the next update will be. However, I WILL FINISH THIS STORY! Thanks again everyone, you guys are fantastic.

Jaimi

Chapter 9

"Sister Mary, I presume?"

The Nun nodded, smiling at the crew, tears in her eyes. She'd heard Lucas' plea. His first words in almost a week. She'd actually been grateful to see the young man break down and cry.it meant his emotions were buried, but not yet dead.

"Nice to finally meet you. I'm Commander Ford, this is Lt. Commander Hitchock, Doctor Westphalen, Chief Crocker, Chief Ortiz, Lt. O'Neill and Lt. Krieg. We're friends of Lucas'."

"I know. He spoke of you.before." she trailed off, and they understood she meant before he had stopped talking.

Jonathan nodded, smiling charmingly, as did Ben, who spoke up. "And the Captain has told us about you. You've been looking out for Lucas for us. We can't thank you enough, and would hate to ask anymore of you, but uh.I don't suppose you can pretend you never saw us...?"

Sister Mary raised an eyebrow, as did the rest of the crew.

"I would do that for what reason?" she asked with a smile, though she had an idea. It no doubt had something to do with Lucas' plea not to leave him.

"To abide the wishes of a sweet kid? To do the right thing? You and I both know Lucas doesn't belong here. Let us take him with us. Maybe you can claim something about having permission from his Dad. It'll be impossible for them to deny it, cause they'd never get through to confirm whether he did or didn't-"

"Leuitenant." Bridger spoke up, looking sternly at Krieg, though truly, the plan sounded damn good to him. "I applaud your imagination.I never plan to play poker with you. However, there must be another way besides bribing a Nun. I-"

Suddenly his PAL beeped, and everyone went silent. Bridger had felt Lucas stiffen in his arms at the sudden noise, then relax as he recognized the familiar communication tool.

Bridger motioned to Ben, who came over, and sat next to Lucas, so the Captain could pull away and open his PAL.

"Bridger."

"Nathan, it's me!" the voice of Admiral Noyce exclaimed.

Nathan knew his crew would likely want to hear any news the admiral had. However, just in case it wasn't good, he didn't want Lucas to hear it. The Captain stood and walked several meters away to talk quietly with his old friend.

"Any news, Bill?" he questioned urgently, as he stopped beside the wrought iron fence.

"The appeal to reconsider putting Lucas back on board has gone through. The seaQuest will be docking for a month, while we work it out. I'm going to get the top scientists and big wigs who have met Lucas to propose on his behalf that he stay aboard seaQuest. In the mean time, I've managed to convince Wolenczak to allow you to be his guardian, to keep him in your care, while this is all going on. It took a lot of weaseling on my part Nathan, so I hope you haven't changed your mind."

"Of course I haven't, Bill. You have no idea how great this news is to hear. You couldn't have called at a better time."

"Why? What's wrong?"

"Not now. I want to get Lucas out of here."

"Stay in the area, Nathan. He can't be back on seaQuest yet, and Wolenczak didn't want him leaving the country.that means the main land. No hauling him off to your island."

Nathan sighed. *And that would have been ideal in getting him to open up, a more relaxing atmosphere near the element he loves.*

Instead he said, "All right, Bill. I don't suppose-"

"I've booked you, and the senior crew, some rooms at the Plaza on the coast. I figured they'd want to be close at hand, but everyone else is welcome to either stay aboard seaQuest while she's docked, or head home. They've got to be back by the end of the month though. Whether Lucas is back aboard or not, the crew and YOU are."

Nathan nodded, thankful for what they had going for them so far.

"I understand. Thank you, Bill. This means a lot."

It was Noyce's turn to nod. "Tell Lucas I'm rooting for him."

"I will. Keep me posted."

"Same to you, Nathan."

Flipping his PAL off, Nathan looked back at his crew, including the fifteen year old who still looked pale, and not really himself, but no longer the shell of a human he had been less than an hour before. Smiling as Ben said something that got a hint of a smile from Lucas, Nathan headed back to his friends, to tell them all the good news.

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Lucas looked around the room in disinterest. Most kids would be wowed by the large, spacious suite that he and the Captain would be staying in for the month. Lucas however, was used to it. Though his home life had always been rough, abusive, emotionally neglectful.sometimes even physically neglectful, in that on the helps day off, he'd often had to cook for himself, even at five years of age, he had never lacked in material things. His parents were rich. He'd lived in a big house, with all the newest technology and entertainment.

He'd been to more of his parent's social events then he cared to remember. Though his parents despised him for "what he'd done", for "being born", they could not ignore the fact that he was bright, charming and quite handsome.the perfect tool to lure in potential funders who oohed and awed over the cute little genius with the sweet smile.

And dancing, oh yes, Lucas knew every dance there ever was for such events. His father had often made him dance with the daughters of potential partners, and even their mothers and grandmothers.

Lucas sighed in remembrance. He supposed it wasn't so bad.those people had always been nicer to him than his own parents.

Looking over as the Captain set his seabag down and tipped the bell boy, he felt another wave of guilt hit like a tsunami. Despite the relief at being out of the orphanage, he knew he was the reason seaQuest was docked and her crew grounded for a month way ahead of schedule.possibly taking out of their next docking, and messing up people's plans. He was always messing up people's plans.

"Hey, Kiddo..."

Lucas jumped, but calmed remembering where he was and who he was with.

He smiled weakly as he turned to the Captain who looked concerned, but said nothing. Lucas knew he'd noticed Lucas jump from time to time, and silently berated himself. He recalled what Ben had said earlier, what they suspected of his past. It was his fault of course, everything was. He couldn't even manage not to jump out of his skin when someone moved suddenly or surprised him, making them suspicious.

*Moron,* he thought. *You should have been more careful.do you WANT them to know. To REALLY know.?* He paused, considering. "*Do I?*"

"Do you what?" Lucas jumped again, forgetting that the Captain had called to him moments before, and then realized he'd spoken the last out loud.

He blushed. "Nothing, sorry."

Nathan smiled, slowly and gently taking the teen's arm. "Come on, Pal. Ben and Miguel suggested we head back to the fair. They have rides lit up at night and that "spectacular" light circus."

Lucas smiled back, heart lifting a little. Maybe he was a little old for fairs and circus', but he'd never really been to any when he was younger.his parents never took him. When he'd been there earlier that day, in his earlier state, he'd barely taken in the surroundings. Maybe this time he could really enjoy himself.

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Lucas smiled as the crew made their way toward the circus. They'd had fun. Though Lucas was still quiet and withdrawn, he had smiled for them and spoke when spoken too. Things were looking up.

As they rounded the corner of the fair grounds, past the stables, they came to the entrance, a huge arch, alight with flames. This circus was all about a light show with animals.lights, firecrackers and flames. And flames were a problem. Ever since that day, when he was left alone with his sister.that fateful day she died, and the day a year later where he himself nearly died in a fire set by his own father, the child had been deathly afraid of fire.even the flicker of a candle, the constant reminder of his failure, troubled him.

He slowed down as they approached, looking wildly from side to side. Wasn't there another way in? The crowds rushed through, unharmed. It was well and safely maintained, with a wide glass shield that kept the flames at bay, from being any danger to the fair goers. That changed nothing for Lucas. Flames were flames, horrible and deadly. HE would NOT walk through there. Seven meters back, he stopped and stared.

Red, orange, hints of blue and green. Perilous beauty. Oh how he hated it. His heart pounded in his chest. It took up all residence of sound in his ears, but for the silent roar he imagined from the fire. It wasn't there but he heard it.heard the cribs wood crackle, the silk drapes sizzle and pop. And that's all he heard.

His friends voices faded, their questioning looks unnoticed.

"Lucas? What are you staring at? Come one, we're gonna miss the show.Luke?" Ben looked at his friend, and noticed the terror, bright in the large blue orbs. Terror of what? Ben followed Lucas' gaze, as did the others.

"The arch?" Crocker asked, brow furrowed. "The fire? It's okay, Lucas. You know better than any of us how safe it is. Humor me kid! Rattle off exactly how the flame can't hurt us through those coverings." Crocker was teasing, attempting to get Lucas' attention, but the boy didn't appear to hear him.to hear any of them. He'd gone paler, and if they looked closely, they saw his hands twitching.

Suddenly, just as Bridger reached to touch his shoulder, even willing to startle him to get him out of this trance like state, Lucas bolted. They all started in surprise, watching him run into the stable, before snapping out of their own shock, and hurriedly following him.

They found him at the far end of the stable, standing beside the stall of a large dapple grey horse. He was trembling, and didn't appear to hear their approach. He was leaning his stomach against the stall door, his face buried in the horse's neck. The horse eyed the strangers, before gently nudging the frightened stranger that stroked her long powerful neck.

Finally hearing them come to a stop behind him, he turned towards them, but his eyes were fixed on the floor, his right cheek against the horse's left, while his right hand came up to stroke the horse's velvety nose.

Carefully stepping forward, Bridger took Lucas' free hand. "Talk to me, Pal."

Silence. The crew didn't think he was going to speak. However, Lucas found himself speaking as if by another's will. He didn't want to tell them this, did he?

Whether he did or not.he did anyway.

"I was four.she was .she was just a baby. And I killed her."

The crew shared wide eyed looks. Jonathan spoke up first. "Who? What? Whatever happened, I'm sure it wasn't-"

"I was supposed to watch her. She was crying. I couldn't quiet her, so I ran downstairs to call the neighbor. I left her alone. She screamed and cried, banged her crib, and knocked a candle over. Seconds.it took seconds. I ran back, the entire room was in flames.it hurt to breathe, it was so hot. But she needed me. I'd already failed her once, I couldn't fail her again."

The crew once again shared astonished looks. He blamed himself? Where were the child's parents? Why was a four year old being responsible for a baby?

"I went to pick her up.she threw herself in my arms.she trusted me so much. She was too heavy.or I wasn't strong enough. She threw me off balance. I started towards the door. But something fell on me.and then, as I lay there, and couldn't move.it stopped. She stopped.she wasn't crying anymore."

Tears were in Kristin and Katie's eyes, and old pain and guilt shone in Lucas'.

"Who was she?" Jonathan asked quietly.

There was a long, tense pause. The crew waited patiently for their friend to speak.

".my sister."

TBC.

Note: Recall this is AU people, so no paying attention to Lucas' lack of fear in the Captains's cabin in "Knight Of Shadows".