A/N: Umm...Hi? Holy hell, I really didn't mean to take this long to update. (Sorry!) Seriously. I had this chapter planned out months ago, but never found the time nor the urge to actually write it. Work kicks my ass almost every day, so between catching up on sleep and finding my friends, I'm trying to find some time to write. (FYI: Don't ever work in an Amazon .com warehouse. It will suck the life out of you!)
I actually thought of this story at work like 2 weeks ago and was like "I really want to update it"...so I am. :-)
I made it super long. So...enjoy!
Once Colleen finished re-bandaging Jack, she made her way to the couch. Flopping down, she sighed and stared at the fish tank as she tried not to watch Jack walk through the room to his work station, putting his shirt back on as he went. Once he sat down at the microscope, she turned her head to him and saw that he was looking back at her. She offered him a small smile as a blush worked its way up her face. He grinned back, then turned in the chair to face his desk.
Colleen watched Jack's back muscles move under his shirt as he reached for a beaker and a microscope slide. When she realized she was staring, she shook her head and looked away, towards the coffee table in front of her. She saw the waterproof camera with the memory card that Jim handed to her before the storm next to the table and reached over to pick it up, the smile leaving her face instantly. Running her thumb over the LCD screen on the back, she slowly stood up from the couch.
Switching the camera to one hand, she lowered it to her side and looked back at Jack. She cleared her throat awkwardly to get his attention.
"Uh, I'm going to, uh...head to the beach for a bit. Just in case you need me for some reason." She said when he turned to face her.
"Oh, okay." He frowned subtly.
Nodding once, Colleen dipped her head and started to walk out of the house.
Jack watched her keenly until she was out of sight.
Colleen stopped on the porch at the top of the stairs. Taking a deep breath, she descended and made her way through the trees to a section of the beach that was more of an alcove than beach; it was a tide pool surrounded on three sides by trees. She walked to the edge and looked into the water to see what was there. There were some tiny minnows and anemones and a few star fish.
After kneeling down and stroking a starfish briefly, she planted her butt in the sand and sat with her legs folded under her. She brought the camera to her lap and stared at it. Several moments passed before she decided to even move her finger towards the power button.
I don't know if I really want these batteries to actually still work or not. I don't know what's on here. She thought miserably; memories of her last moments on her boat resurfacing.
She finally hit the button and it turned on. With an extremely deep sigh, she flipped to the 'review' function of the camera to see what kinds of pictures Jim had taken. The first picture was of a beautiful yellow tang in front of some purple coral.
As she continued to sift through the pictures, Colleen was amazed by the beauty Jim had managed to capture. She smiled sadly wondering if she would ever see Jim again and thank him for the pictures. She felt her eyes start to burn with the threat of tears.
When she reached the last picture (the first taken on the memory card), she let out a small sob and brought a hand to cover her mouth. The picture was of her crew, Tabitha, Mindy, Edmund, Jim, and herself, standing on the dock next to her research boat the day they set sail. Joe, the captain, was standing on the deck of the boat. All of them, minus Joe, were smiling and hanging onto each other with arms over shoulders.
Colleen lowered her hand and smiled sadly as she remembered the day. She continued to flip through the pictures again.
She was so engrossed with her memories, Colleen lost track of time...nor did she hear anyone join her near the tide pool.
Jack quietly made his way onto the sand behind the scientist. He watched her for a few moments, trying to figure out why the look on her face earlier made him want to make her happy. He took slow steps closer to her.
Colleen heard someone behind her. Her head shot up as she turned it towards her intruder. Seeing that it was Jack, she quickly swiped her hand across her eyes to get rid of the few tears that happened to leak out. She turned her head back towards him.
"Hey." She said. It came out shaky.
"Hey, yourself." Jack replied, stepping up next to her. "What are you doing out here?" He asked as he sat next to her. He brought his knees up and wrapped his arms around them; his left hand holding onto his right wrist.
"Remembering." Colleen whispered sadly. "How'd you find me?"
"It wasn't hard to find your path." He answered with a grin. "No offense, but you leave a trail a rookie park ranger could follow."
Colleen let out a scoffing laugh, then sniffled as she looked back at the camera in her hands.
Jack followed her line of sight and watched as she stroked the camera. "Whatcha got there?" He asked quietly.
"The waterproof camera from my underwater photographer. He gave me the memory card the night of the storm." She replied, glancing at him. "Would you like to see? They're beautiful."
"Absolutely." He smiled.
Colleen smiled back, then handed the camera over to him. She started the pictures on the yellow tang. "Hit the left button to get through them." She instructed.
Jack nodded as he looked through the pictures. Colleen scooted closer to him and explained the pictures (where they were taken, mostly) when he asked. When he reached the picture of her crew, Colleen looked away, towards the tide pool.
"Is this your crew?" Jack asked, turning the camera towards her.
"Yes." She replied without looking. "The day we left California." She felt a tear fall down her cheek...the check closest to Jack.
Jack saw and lowered the camera to the sand next to him. "What happened?" He asked softly, watching her intently.
Colleen took a few seconds to gather herself before speaking. "I already told you what happened."
"Right. The storm took your boat." Jack replied.
Colleen nodded and bit her lip to keep it from trembling.
"Okay. So…who's who?" He asked picking up the camera again; he tried to get her to think of other things.
Colleen sighed and gently took the camera back from Jack. She pointed to herself. "Me, obviously."
"Obviously." Jack repeated with a smirk.
Colleen smiled then pointed to the man to the right of her. "That's Jim. He took the pictures on there. He's amazing at what he does...did." Tears welled up in her eyes again, but she swallowed a few times before continuing. She pointed to the left of herself. "That's Tabitha, then Mindy, and Edmund. They were my colleagues. And some of the best friends I had in this field." She sniffed, trying desperately to hold back the tears now. "The man on the boat's Joe. He was the captain I hired since I have no idea how to power a boat." She choked on a laugh.
Jack smiled sadly as he put his hand on her shoulder, rubbing the side with his thumb. "Do you miss them?"
"Every minute. Every second." She whispered, letting a few tears fall. "I just want to know if they're okay or...not." She looked over at him.
Jack saw the sadness growing on her face and in her eyes. He desperately wanted to take her pain away. Not really knowing how (without having to page the Grim Reaper), he took his hand off of her shoulder and wrapped it around both shoulders, pulling her closer to him. He let his knees fall to the ground and turned his torso towards her as he wrapped his other arm around her; she rested against his side. She hid her face in his chest as she finally succumbed to her tears. He held her tightly as her tears fell harder and he rested his head on top of hers to surround her with comfort.
It was late in the afternoon when Jack set out to find Colleen and now it was getting dark and close to dinner time. Luckily, Colleen's tears were subsiding, so they wouldn't be caught out in the forest in the dark.
Colleen slowly tilted her head to the side so she wasn't breathing into Jack's loose shirt any longer as she got her tears under control. She closed her eyes briefly to regulate her breathing.
Once her breathing was returned to normal, she looked down to the camera. With one hand she turned it off and set it in the sand next to Jack's legs. She then brought her arms up and slowly wrapped them around Jack's waist. He tensed momentarily before relaxing again.
"I'm sorry for my blubbering." Colleen said quietly when they were both comfortable again.
"No, I'm sorry." Jack replied into her hair.
Colleen grinned to herself before pulling her head back to look up at him. Jack smiled down at her.
"You okay now?" He asked.
"No, but I will be." She replied, lowering her head to his chest again. She listened to his steady heartbeat as they sat in silence for a minute.
"What if you sent an e-mail to them?" Jack suggested. "I mean, if they made it, they might do the same for you, right?"
Colleen lifted her head again.
"Maybe. If they're still alive, they might." She said more to herself before looking up at Jack. "May I use your computer?"
"Yeah. No problem." Jack smiled.
Colleen smiled back, but there was still a sadness to it, like she didn't believe that no matter what she did, she wouldn't find her friends alive. She slid her hands away from Jack's waist as his slowly released her shoulders. They moved apart slightly so they could stand and head back to the house. Jack stood first and, after Colleen picked up the camera, held his hand down. She took it and he hefted her to her feet. They looked at each other before Jack turned and headed towards the trees...never letting go of her hand.
Colleen was grateful for the growing darkness so Jack wouldn't see her blush as they traipsed through the forest.
When they got back to the house, Jack led her up the stairs and to the computer (still never letting go of her hand). He turned the swivel chair towards her and, after finally releasing her hand, took her shoulders and gently pushed her into the chair. With a grin, he turned her and the chair towards the computer and reached around her to power up the computer.
"When it's booted up, type up an e-mail and send it." He told her. "Nim and I'll make dinner. So don't worry."
Before he turned away, Colleen grabbed his lower arm. He looked from her hand to her face, his heart rate increasing slightly.
"Thank you, Jack." She said softly, sincerely.
"Welcome." He replied just as softly.
Jack reluctantly took steps away when Colleen loosened her grip on him. Her hand slid down his arm until he was out of reach. She brought her hand back to the desk and watched him until he left the room.
When he was out of her sight, she grinned and turned back to the computer. When it was booted, she logged into her e-mail account and entered her crew's e-mail addresses into the 'To' line with the subject "Anyone Out There?!". She stared at the blank space for the body of the e-mail for a good ten minutes before she decided to just wing it and write whatever came to mind.
Another five minutes passed before Jack walked back into the room, resting his arms on the back of the swivel chair.
"How's it going?" He asked, startling Colleen.
"Oh." She turned to glance at him. "Good. I think. I'm not entirely sure if what I wrote makes much sense." She admitted.
"Well, I'm sure to people who have known you for longer than I have would understand exactly what you mean." He smiled. "Are you almost done? Dinner's ready."
Colleen forced a smile in return. "Yeah. I think...I should just send it, shouldn't I?"
Jack chuckled. "Just go for it." He turned to go back outside. "Come on out when you're done."
When Jack stepped back outside, Nim looked up from the fire. "Where's Colleen?" She asked him.
"She's on her way." Jack replied sitting next to the fire again.
"Is she okay? I mean, she's kinda been hiding all day." The girl said.
"She's a little depressed about not knowing where her friends are." It wasn't a total lie, but it wasn't the whole truth either. He didn't want to have Nim worrying about the scientist as well.
"Can't she call them or something?"
"Nim, just drop it. Don't bring it up, either. Okay?" Jack said sternly, but smiling a little so it wasn't so harsh.
"Okay." She replied, meekly.
After Colleen hit 'Send', she got up from the computer and walked out of the house. Again, she paused at the top of the stairs and took a deep breath. Nim saw her first and waved her over. She sat down next to Nim as Jack dished out dinner.
All through dinner, Nim was creating a plan on how to get Colleen out of her slump. She noticed as soon as the woman walked out of the house that something was off. Nim, not liking to see anyone depressed, immediately sent her brain into a frenzy.
Once they finished eating (and before a dessert of more s'mores), Nim excused herself and ran into the house.
"She's up to something." Jack said quietly.
Colleen looked up at the other scientist. "What makes you say that?" She asked him.
Jack was still watching the house, where Nim disappeared. "She had that look in her eyes. The one that spoke of mischief."
Colleen smirked and shook her head a little.
After the two heard a lot of thumping coming from inside the house, Nim reemerged from the front door. She smiled wide at the two adults before lifting a remote and pointing it towards the house.
The beat of some pop song loudly filled the air, making both Colleen and Jack cover their ears briefly. She had turned the big speakers in the house out the windows.
"NIM!" jack yelled above the music.
"Sorry! Sorry!" She yelled back, lowering the music to more audible decibels.
"What are you doing?" Jack asked her, standing from his seat.
"Just having a little fun, Jack." She replied innocently.
Colleen looked from daughter to father. She could see Jack was about to start yelling at Nim, so she stepped in.
"Jack." She called softly. When he looked at her, she continued. "It's alright. A little music never hurt anyone...well, except our ears, but we'll be okay." She grinned.
Jack looked from Nim to Colleen and back again.
"Alright. Alright. You win." Jack gave in, raising his hands in surrender. "Just…not so loud."
Nim raised her right hand and held her left, holding the remote, over her heart. "I promise."
"Good. Now come make your s'mores." Jack said, nodding towards the fire pit.
Nim ran back over to her seat and picked up a stick and a marshmallow, ready to roast.
After the annoying pop song was over, a more mellow and fitting song played. Bobby Darin's smooth vocals of "Somewhere Beyond the Sea" flowed over the three of them.
Jack sat up a little straighter before getting an idea and acting on it. He stood up and walked over to Colleen's side. He held his hand out to her.
She looked from his hand to his face, questioningly.
"Will you dance with me?" He asked her.
"Oh, uh...well..." Colleen stuttered.
"Come on." Jack taunted.
With a dramatic huff, Colleen gave him her hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet. They took a few steps away from the fire pit.
Jack smiled triumphantly and placed his left hand on Colleen's lower back and held her left hand in his right. Her right hand lightly held onto the back of his left shoulder. Jack led them in slow circles in time with the song. The two only had eyes for each other.
Nim watched Colleen and Jack from her seat by the fire, her marshmallow long forgotten. Selkie had joined her with Fred getting a piggy back ride from the sea lion. Nim greeted the animals, then watched the dance again.
Halfway through the song, Jack started to softly sing along, making Colleen smile and inwardly swoon.
The man could carry a tune, that was for damn sure! His singing voice was deep and she could feel the vibrations in his body wherever they touched.
As the song was coming to an end, they slowly came to a stop. But either one was parting from the other. They stared at each other; Jack's eyes glancing from her eyes to her lips as his head moved closer to her own.
Just as their lips were about to connect in a kiss, Nim whooped from the side, breaking the spell that settled over the two and pulled their heads back. Colleen and Jack looked over at the girl who was laughing and still whooping. Selkie trumpeted and Fred cawed along with her.
Colleen laughed, feeling herself blush, and turned her face away from Nim, resting her head on Jack's shoulder.
Jack watched his daughter laugh, not being able to stop himself from laughing as well. When Colleen turned her head into him, he wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tightly to him. He subtly turned his head towards Colleen's and kissed her cheek. He felt her tense in his arms for a moment before lifting her head towards his and kissing his cheek lightly. She moved her head back to be able to look into his face. She blushed as she locked eyes with him, then looked away quickly, back towards Nim who was bouncing in her seat.
"Come on." Jack said, releasing her and taking her hand, tugging her back towards the fire. "Let's make some s'mores." He said, then raised her hand to kiss the back of it (making her blush deepen) as they walked back to the fire.
A/N: Would anyone else totally melt if Gerry was singing to you?! I certainly would!
I'm pretty sure I switched POV a lot in this chapter, but didn't feel like it was long enough sections to be separated.
Please leave a review and let me know what you think!