Sorry about the long length between updates. I was busy with work... and I bought Season 5 of Blue Heelers on DVD. And a little depressed over last night's serious lack of MK. This is a much shorter update than I'm used to, but fear not, a big event will come... I've already got it planned. You'll be hanging out for Dutch Courage and Rawhide. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this one, however short it may be. Please review. Now back to my Blue Heelers watching...
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.
Swain's phone was ringing again. His wife was wondering where he was. They had technically been on shore leave for two hours and forty-three minutes—he checked his watch—and he'd promised Sally that he would be home an hour ago. But he got caught up with the crew at their favourite pub in Cairns and, three beers in, was having too much fun to leave. Eventually, as time and exhaustion wore him out, he announced his goodbyes and left. Several team members followed, proclaiming similar details of lives to get back to.
An hour later and there were only four crew members left—Charge, who was doing very well after consuming 10 standard drinks in just an hour, 2Dads, who Charge had successfully drunk 'under the table,' Mike and Kate, who were sitting a little way away from them, rather cosily and alone. Mike had his arm casually flung over the back of the comfortable lounge and Kate was leaning back on it. They seemed unperturbed by, and possibly unaware of, the antics of Charge and 2Dads, and were almost mesmerised by their conversation.
"I just don't see why I have to be the one to deal with it," Kate said with a smile, continuing their conversation from earlier that day, which had been interrupted by RO's information of the impending approach of a light aircraft. They had been, of course, talking about 2Dad's latest prank.
"Well, it's your job," Mike told her, as he had done so earlier.
"And it was my coffee." The young leading seaman had timed his hoax well, catching the X off-guard and switching her brew with a pre-planned mug of set jelly. The sleepy officer, sensing something was wrong... or stuck, tipped it far back enough for the entire contents of red Aeroplane jelly to evacuate its ceramic shell and empty over her face. Unimpressed was definitely an expression used to describe her in that moment, and, possibly, murderous. She considered inducting a rule on to the Hammersley—don't mess with the XO's coffee if you want to live. The idea had been stolen from an episode of NCIS that she'd watched on her last shore leave. It seemed to be a good principle in this instance.
"You had him mopping out the heads, vacuuming the mess', servicing every bit of technology on the boat and rostered him on to the guts watch," Mike listed. "What else do you want to do to him?"
"What can I say? My patience has been running a little thin of late."
It felt like a slap, and one that definitely got to him. All their talk of frustration and trying to maintain professional decorum meant nothing really if they weren't going anywhere. He knew Kate's patience with him and with NAVCOM was running out. What he didn't know was what would happen to them—between them—when it did.
"I'm not sure what you want me to say anymore, Kate," Mike said despairingly.
"Yes, you've told me. NAVCOM is dragging the chain and we just have to deal with it." Kate moved away from him just slightly.
"Taking off," Charge announced, interrupted their conversation.
"Ma'am, sir," 2Dads said drunkenly, tipping his head in some sort of a bow.
Kate gave him a strange look and Mike raised his eyebrows. Charge pushed him out of the sight and towards the door. Giving them one last wave, he was gone.
"That was..." Kate began.
"Maybe I should be going too," Kate proposed, making a nonchalant move towards her handbag.
"Wait," Mike said, touching her arm. She stopped and turned back to him. "Stay. I'll even buy you a drink."
"That's not necessary," Kate urged, again moving away.
"No, it is. Wait here." He got up, frequently looking back at her as he walked to the bar.
Her eyes wandered towards the door. She could go, make a run for it, before he got back. It was an option that she was seriously considering. Her chance ran out when he came back—she let it. Gratefully accepting her drink, she moved back over to allow him in.
"I almost thought that you were going to do a runner," Mike commented with a smile as he, again, threw his arm around the back of the lounge.
"So did I."
"What made you stay?"
Kate put her drink down and looked at him, expressionlessly and empty of emotion. It softened eventually. "You did. I want to make this work."
"I do, too."
"You mean that?"
Mike smiled and nodded again, but there was something in his eyes that gave Kate cause for concern.