It was a relatively calm night. The sky was clear, and the moon had taken the place of the sun hours ago. Stars sprinkled the black velvet that stretched over them for infinity. Standing in the back of the room, his jacket adorned with countless medals, the former Marine bore his hat proudly, his hands folded behind him, as he observed his crew work in the front control room. His face was solemn, which usually meant that the night was going smoothly. At least, there was nothing to get excited about; nothing to ruffle his feathers. Nelson's eyes were trained on the large glass window stretching around half of the room--or, rather, through it. The tranquility of the ocean below set him at peace. The background noise of the rapid clicks of the keyboards his workers were using helped even out the mood. Needless to say, he was happy.
One of the workers directly in front of him turned in his chair. "Sir? Have a look at this."
Nelson checked his watch. Whatever it was, it would have to wait. Nothing would mar tonight. "Not now, Williams. I have to get to the dining floor."
For once, he didn't feel like gambling. His mind wasn't in the right way--he was overly cautious, paranoid, even, as much as he didn't want to admit it. He had to be strong, for Maggie. It was all too clear she was shaking in her skin as it was. Just standing--standing in the middle of the dining floor, watching. Staring blankly. Doing nothing. Waiting. Waiting, as if something unexpected was going to happen.
But even in those circumstances--even when one could continue to be fully braced and ready for whatever they didn't anticipate would happen to them, but they knew something might; (on the off chance) might happen--they were never prepared for what was actually coming. Dylan, the hero, was no exception. Even though he remained vigilant and alert, he knew that if something came, he wouldn't be nearly as ready as he thought he'd been.
So what was the use, then? Why not enjoy his time here? Why not bet his savings on a game of poker? Why not throw his money away on a deck of cards, a whiskey, and a cigarette? The more he thought about it, the more wonderful that began to sound. A smoke. Sounded very nice.
Just as he felt his muscles relaxing: his shoulders dropped, spine stopped aching, and his thighs released, he realized he shouldn't have put his guard down. Something about being so nonchalant and free about the night didn't settle well with him. He felt like he had to be tense--otherwise, who else would be there to watch in case something did...
He had to stop thinking like that. It was only going to drive him insane. Shaking his head, blinking his eyes feverishly, as if that was going to reset his brain, he gave himself something to do; something to concentrate on, so he didn't have to think about being nervous. Dylan set off to find Maggie and Connor.
Taking in a ragged breath, he kept his hands firmly at his sides. Maybe this was a bad idea, coming on this ship. No, Dylan, quit it. Where's Mag and Connor? Thought I saw them this way...
Making a sharp turn and releasing the air he only now realized he'd been holding (actually, that was what was causing the knot in his chest), he was able to put on a mannequin smile for the two people he'd been looking for.
"Having too much fun without me, I see," he remarked, coming up behind Connor and ruffling the boy's hair. To his pleasure, Maggie smiled up at him, too. The boy giggled. "You guys up for something to eat? I'm starved." In actuality, he was bored, and looking for something to distract him. Eating would suffice, right?
But Connor shook his head, to Dylan's dismay. "Mom said I could go up on the balcony up there to watch everybody when they cut the ribbon." His minute finger pointed to the big, red ribbon across the stage that the captain was going to cut at the "unveiling" of the ship. It was one of the reasons Dylan wanted to get a drink. Sure, it was the grand opening, but did it have to be such a big spectacle?
Still, he didn't want to put a damper on the boy's excitement. Offering a grin, he jutted his chin out gently. "Okay, buddy. You should head up there now. Looks like they're going to start soon," he added with a glance to the side, watching a man in a Marines hat and jacket go up on the stage, the Captain. "And it's almost midnight."
With a smile that frequently melted Dylan's heart, Connor scampered off to the staircases.
Maggie tried to tug back the grin pulling at the corners of her mouth. "Sure you're okay?"
"Hey, don't worry about me," he murmured casually, tossing his hand, smirking.
Giving him the once-over, Maggie nodded, as if accepting his evasive answer. Idly, her hand reached for his, and she played with his fingers. She murmured, "Okay, Superman."
It was the spinning red light above their heads and sickening siren that made his stomach flip.
They climbed the last step to get up to the right level. Chris still had a fast hold on Jennifer's hand, and had no intention of letting go. In fact, they both looked like they could be sent into a spiral at any given point in time. They were both trying to support each other with their own "toughness," but in that, they both knew that they were weaker than they'd ever been before. Each of them had their own worries, however ridiculous they may have seemed. Chris admired how calm she appeared, how strong she remained. Jennifer could get through so much he couldn't; he knew he couldn't. And even as she portrayed her strength, he knew she had a heart of gold. Gentle, kind, caring. He couldn't help but think that she'd make a wonderful mother some day.
The thought made him smile.
You'll make one fine mother, sweet Jennifer, he thought to himself.
As if she heard his mind, her face turned to him and returned the grin on his face. As if it put her at ease, she leaned in to share a kiss with him. "Come on, PG please?" she teased him, keeping her face close enough for their noses to touch. "There's a baby in the vicinity."
"All right, nothing too raunchy," he abided with a scoff. "But I get to kiss my fiancée, don't I?" He loved hearing her laugh--so warm, soothing, musical. His face suddenly took a serious turn, expression level. "Hey Jen, speaking of babies..."
"Hmm?" She matched his volume, keeping their voices low while the British couple to the side of them filed into the dining hall after thanking them. "What about them?"
Was this the best time to discuss this kind of thing? This was a topic most couples had trouble with--one of the two: marriage, and babies.
Licking his lips, Chris laid his hands on her waist, feeling her hands on his arms. "What's up, Christian?" she encouraged gently, pressing their lips together softly, only for a moment, as if to prompt him; as if to make sure he was comfortable with telling her this. Chris knew he could confide in her.
"Well," he began steadily, "I was just wondering...what you think...well, what you think about. Having children."
He didn't like the silence that came between them just then, but he did kind of expect her to be thinking about her answer. At least that was a good sign...right? Hopefully. Interrupting his own thoughts, he waited for her to respond. Respond in any way. An expression, a movement, a phrase.
Then that unmistakable smile came over Jen's beautiful face. "Danny kind of reminded you, huh?"
"Come on, Jen. I...you know I want to be a dad."
She laughed a little to herself, bowing her head. But it was a happy, short little outburst. Like she was taken by surprise, maybe? "I'd love to. You know that, too."
It'd been a long time since Christian had seen her smile like that.
Wait--had she said she wanted to? Well, that had been easy. Nothing was turned into a banter with Jennifer when it came to things between them, most of the time. And this...it wasn't made into a petty argument or play with each other's emotions. In the end, they both wanted each other to be happy. He tried not to laugh at himself. God, he loved her so much.
Bringing her up in his arms, he brought his wife-to-be (Jesus, he loved saying that, but he wanted to be married to her already) into a passionate kiss, never letting go.
Until he heard the siren.
They looked at each other, both of their faces fallen. He saw the pure fear in Jennifer's eyes. The knowing. The expectancy. Their heads snapped to the window directly to their left, and they saw the horror of the recurrence.
He heard Jennifer breathe out the word. "No."