This is much shorter story than my previous one. I've decided to attempt a continuing post-ep series after each episode of Season 4. Ransom was done and posted first, as something of a trial. After its brief and reasonable success, I've decided to continue, starting at the first episode, Night of the Long Knives. This story will, therefore, have spoilers for that episode. I hope you enjoy and please review.

Disclaimer: I do not own any characters, locations or storylines from Sea Patrol. Those rights belong to Hal and Di McElroy, and the Nine Network, and I do not intend to infringe copyright laws. I am not making any profit from this story and am writing it for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.


Let's Invest in a Little Bit of Love

Their meeting this morning would be brief, he knew that, and they would have very little privacy. He could not spend too long alone with her; she had precious little time to waste at NAVCOM. Nobody ever said that desk jockeys work so hard. It was three days into a shore posting and he was starting to think that he'd get more rest on the Hammersley. Not that he had time to think...

Paperwork had multiplied a hundred fold and he had very quickly grown accustom to answering the phone at all times of the day. There were briefs to prepare, intelligence to surmise and pass on, reports to read and meetings to attend. It wasn't quite the navy he was used to, but his promotion did bring one certain unique advantage—his higher rank automatically bestowed a higher power. It was just another stripe on his shoulder until his first classified meet with certain valued individuals, and while a big part of him missed being at sea, another part thrived on the experience of moving mountains and seas to get what he wanted. He may have been in charge of a crew of 21 on Hammersley, but the real shots were being called at NAVCOM. He wasn't the highest ranking officer there, but his previous experience, in fact, put him years above some of his colleagues. There were times, and in those three days alone, that he felt in charge of four Armidale class patrol boats, two Leeuwin class survey vessels, four Paluma class survey motor launches and four Balikpapan class landing craft.

He barely had time to finish reading the most recent survey report to cross his desk before a knock at his door interrupted. He looked up and smiled. "X."

"Sir." The smile was returned. His former executive officer admitted herself into his office and closed the door behind. It was a risky action—neither party wanted to give an appearance of secrecy to their discussion—but a necessary one, Kate decided.

He stood up and leant casually against the side of his desk while Kate walked over to him. "Enjoying life afloat with Lieutenant Commander Coburn?"

"It's different," Kate admitted, "but honestly I haven't had much time to discuss anything with him. How about you? NAVCOM treating you well?"

"Not too badly," he said with a smile. "Are you staying in town for long?"

"Unfortunately not. Coastwatch spotted a suspected FFV not far from Bramble Cay. We were just tasked with it."

"FFV?"

"Smugglers no doubt, but the TSRA should deal with it before we arrive," Kate replied, taking up a resting spot against his white wall.

"Or chase them south towards the mainland."

"Or north out of our waters. Either way, I think they'll be gone before we arrive."

Mike shifted uncomfortably, his gaze distracted. "It's a shame, really. I had hoped to make reservations tonight when I heard Hammersley was returning to port."

Kate pushed off the wall and stepped inches closer to him. She was careful, however, to avoid the wandering eyes of passers-by. After all, Chinese Whispers was as much a favourite at NAVCOM as on the Hammersley. "Now that is a shame. It almost makes me want to feign a life-threatening illness."

Mike laughed. "Patience has never been your strong suit."

"No, it hasn't. And I think that I've been plenty patient waiting for this day to happen."

"Shore leave will come before you know it, Kate," Mike assured her, "and then we will have plenty time to discuss this."

"We have precious little time now," Kate murmured. She looked up at him and raised her voice. "I only wish we had more."

"And a little privacy," he added.

"I did suggest curtains."

"You did. I haven't quite had the time for interior design. Now if I had more time to spend with you-"

A knock cut him off mid-sentence.

"Yes," Mike called out.

Maxine opened the door, as Kate dashed forward to do so as well. The two women met with a slight blush and an awkward pause.

"When you have a minute, Mike..." Maxine said in his direction, still looking at Kate. She wasn't going to say anything—it was not her place—and she was definitely intent on applying a 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy to this situation.

"Yes. Just a second, Maxine," Mike said with just a hint of nervousness in his voice. She left and closed the door behind her.

"Does she know..." Kate began.

"Know? Know what?" Mike demanded, almost angrily.

"Nothing," Kate replied, shaking her head with some whim of defeat. "I should go. By now Coburn will realise that I didn't just go for coffee."

Mike nodded but didn't answer.

"I guess I'll see you when I get back?" Kate wondered aloud.

"I guess so. We have a conversation to finish."

"Yes, we do."