Another quick update and short oneshot. They will get longer as we progress into the season and I usually like to write about 2,000 words per update (like Owner of a Lonely Heart). This one includes spoilers for Crocodile Tears 4.02. I've been receiving fabulous reviews. Please keep them coming.
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.
Didn't We Almost Have it All?
Mike had taken the liberty of driving the Hammersley from port as his first action after reclaiming command of the patrol boat. His XO had yet to make an appearance on the bridge, but he was expecting that. He didn't know where on the ship she was and, truth be told, he didn't want to know. Not yet anyway. He wanted to give her time—time to gather her thoughts... her feelings—but most of all, he didn't know how to deal with her after what had just happened. She was more than disappointed, even the blind could see that, and the way she stormed off after their meeting at the stern spoke in louder decibels than any words. He was going to have to come up with a damn fine explanation for this.
He took his chance to catch her after giving Charge the ship. There were any number of places that his X could be, but a little voice in his head, or his heart, directed him towards the galley. Sure enough, his petite blonde officer was there, fixing herself a brew. And she was alone.
"Yes please, X," he said as he entered.
She didn't respond.
"X?" he continued, turning the greeting into a question, as if he was asking for permission to be in such close proximity to her. "I'll make it myself." And he did just that. "You can't afford to give me the silent treatment forever. We do have a job to do and, at some point, you will have to talk to me."
"Well, I'll settle for just an hour of silence," Kate replied admonishingly.
"I didn't choose this, Kate, you have to understand that," Mike pushed.
"Maybe, but you don't seemed too displeased with the fact that you're back here."
"It's not my fault," he continued, over the whistle of the kettle. "Not everything that goes bad between us, Kate, is my fault."
"I know, but..." Her voice drowned out when she lost the words to say.
"You aren't the only one unhappy with this arrangement," Mike put in. "I didn't ask for this."
"But did you want it?" Kate asked, her eyebrows raised enough to give the impression of doubt.
Mike motioned his head in the direction of the officers' mess. "Shall we?" And he led her into the room, shutting the door behind him.
Kate did not use the room's space to her advantage, but rather chose to hang by the door to make, or, possibly, prevent a quick exit. Unfortunately, this gave them very little space in which to move about, so Mike resigned to a position with his hands on hips less than a metre and a half from her. And their closeness only made the situation worse.
"This just came as a surprise that I did not expect," Kate admitted, her body language depicting a little bashfulness at her previously contentious disposition. "It's frustrating."
"And I had just come to grips with the change in our relationship-"
"And now all I have left to look forward to is weeks or months of torture-"
"I know that-"
"And I know that you know, but how do we know that this won't become a permanent fixture for us. This being the navy, we do what we're told and go where we're sent and don't question it."
"I won't let that happen, Kate."
"How?" Her voice was loud now, and Mike was sure that anyone passing by the galley or the mess would be able to hear them clearly. "What can you do?"
"I'll find a way," he professed confidently. "I will do what I can to make this posting short. And then we can pick up where we left off."
"I'm not sure I can handle anymore empty promises," Kate told him firmly.
Kate cut him off. "But you can't promise me that you'll get yourself another posting. Because you and I, we don't want the same things."
"Yes, we do."
"No, Mike, we don't."
He registered the rare use of his first name on the ship, but he didn't need that to tell him that she was serious. "You know how I feel about you, Kate."
"But you've never said it," she retorted immediately. "Ever."
"CO, bridge. At the rush."
"But this is neither the time nor the place for this discussion," Kate concluded, conquered by emotional and physical exhaustion.
"I want to continue it," Mike pressed. He stepped closer to her, deleting the one metre expanse and leaving just inches between body-to-body contact.
Kate just stared into his unreadable expression.
"CO, bridge. CO, bridge. At the rush."
"You have to go," Kate said unemotionally.
He gave her one last longing look and opened the door. Kate closed it behind him, leaning tiredly against the wood. She felt like banging her head into the door, just to take her mind away from the pain he was causing, but it might just be a little too obvious. She remembered her coffee, which, by this time, must be as cold as her icy words, sitting idly on the galley bench. Bomber wouldn't be pleased if she had to clean up after her shipmates.