A quick update this time. I had nothing better to do last night. As you may have noticed, all of the story titles in this post-ep series are song titles, relating in some way or another to the narrative. This song, Heavy in Your Arms, will be known to all of you who have seen Twilight: Eclipse. I haven't - I heard this song on NOVA last week. But Florence and the Machine is one of my favourite artists and I had to download it. A good song-definitely recommended.
As I've mentioned before, I'm building up to something (and trying to make Mike a better man than he appears to be in the show). Hope you enjoy this instalment 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.
Heavy in Your Arms
Kate had said her goodnights, yet she did not immediately retreat to the quiet and private sanctuary of her cabin. She wandered, aimlessly to the common eye, but her trek had a purpose. Her cabin was modest at best and, in her current state, the air was stale enough to suffocate. Exhaustion had given way to a retraction of her will, her emotional stability. The constraining four walls of her room encroached on her personal space and freedom, but, on a boat this size, didn't everything?
The stern, or rear, of the ship was uninhabited and dark, save for a few low lights strung up in accordance with occupational health and safety guidelines. Late at night, when it was so empty, so isolated, and so open, it acted as more of refuge than any room inside the ship. The weather had changed unexpectedly an hour beforehand, forcing the movement of their rescued refugees just ten minutes earlier, but it did not deter her from seeking out her escape. Chilled, she rolled down the sleeves of her jacket and rubbed her hands against her forearms indifferently.
It was true, Kate probably never felt more alone than on the back of a speedy navy cruiser steaming at top speed for home very late at night. On the other hand, there was something to be said for peace of mind, the chance to retreat from the constant chatter of twenty-one of her closest buddies. And there was one individual in particular that usually gave her cause for flight.
Their most recent discussions with Commander White at NAVCOM had only indented doubt into Kate's mind—doubt about Mike's commitment to her, and doubt about the future of the relationship. If this kept up, she doubted there would even be a future. Mike had maintained that he didn't have a choice, that he was doing his job. Kate had almost spoke her mind then and there, mentioning something along the lines of 'that's what they said at Nuremburg.'
A voice cut across her thoughts.
"You're not on watch," he continued. "I thought you were going to bed."
"Was there a question in your line of enquiries, sir?" Only Kate could make the last word sound like an insult.
"What are you doing out here?"
He doesn't let up, she pondered, but didn't voice. There had been too many occasions already on this deployment where she had strayed too close to the line, almost crossing into insolence.
"The weather's changing," Mike commented, still standing a fair way off from her. "It's getting cold out here."
Kate knew about the evening's forecast—she had been the one to plot a course home after all. She knew he was making light chit-chat. When in doubt, always bring up the weather. But they clearly had more vital things to discuss. Neither wanted to be the instigator, but someone had to commence their next argument.
It seemed that that duty had befallen Mike this time around. "Did you have something more to add in my cabin?"
Kate wasn't facing him. She was staring across the moonlit horizon, listening to the gentle breaking of the waves and the deep movements of the water beneath their thrusters. She could ignore him if she chose, but she knew his character. He wouldn't let up. The fastest way to eradicate the pest is to give him what he wants. "It was unrelated. Had nothing to do with Bird or Berkelman."
"I guessed that. Do you want to tell me what it's about?"
She was silent, but her reserve spoke in volumes.
"You're upset about what happened at NAVCOM," he continued. It wasn't a question. He was describing her feelings to her, which so happened to be something of a pet-hate of hers. "You walked away from me again. People there are going to start thinking that there's something going on if you keep treating me with such reckless detachment while we should be working."
He struck a chord and he knew it. She turned, almost immediately, and shot him a fierce glare. He'd expected a well-planned, contentious rebuttal, or some word of protest at the very least. It appeared that Kate was biting her lip again, and swallowing her words. And she was edging closer to the railing.
It was Mike's turn to dramatically change the game plan—he knew that. Kate had already done everything she could to impress upon him the importance of their relationship to her. And he had taken all of that for granted. He'd assumed that she would hold on to those feelings, that she would wait until he was ready to share them.
"It's been three weeks since I told you exactly how I felt, Mike," she said finally, peering over the edge into the wondrous blue abyss below. It was certainly more inviting and warmer than Mike's heart.
"I can't..." he began, before choking on his words.
"I know you can't!" she shot back. "I knew that before this even happened. I was right before."
He walked behind her, just inches, and stood very still. "You still think I'm an emotional coward?"
"I don't think. I know," she spat over her shoulder.
He didn't want to continue down that path. He wanted to show her how much he cared. Choosing his words decisively, but perhaps not carefully enough, he stepped close enough to feel the warmth of her body radiating towards him. "You look tired," he stated plainly. "Maybe you should get some sleep."
"I'm not tired. I'm exhausted." It didn't take long for Kate to switch to full rant mode. "This job is physically exhausting. What happened to Bird and Swain today is exhausting. And you. You are tiring me out faster than anything else in my life. Dealing with you and your indecisiveness every single day is what's causing me to age faster than anything else." She was talking to the sea, refusing to even look at him, but she knew he could hear every word as clear as day.
"I think I should go," he said, and started to move back.
"Maybe, but as soon as this conversation becomes too difficult or too emotional, you're ready to bail."
"Fine." And so he stayed, remaining just as close as before.
"You want to stay on Hammersley," Kate continued, "I get that. But I need you to tell me."
An unexpected southerly blew in their direction and had Kate unintentionally shivering. Mike stepped forward and placed his strong hands on her fragile and cold arms, rubbing to provide extra warmth. He quickly checked around to make sure that they were still concealed from the view of those on watch and that no other soul had decided to join them on the boat deck.
Kate found herself leaning back into his touch, cradling herself softly against his pleasantly heated chest, the heat exchange enough to keep her there. Her head dipped back to rest on his shoulder. A strong-willed part of her knew that this was not a good idea—one minute she was yelling at and insulting him and the next they were canoodling—but there was not enough intelligence in the world to stray her heart from that position. She was caught between a rock and a hard place.
He dropped his head enough to kiss her lightly on the temple. "We need to talk, Kate, but not here. Not now." He let her go almost immediately. "I said I would check on Bird, and you need rest. That's an order."
And without another word, he was gone. Kate lingered for a few moments before adhering to the principle of a direct order. It was time to retreat to another quiet refuge, not to rest, she knew that, but to further dwell on the future of her life with the man she was in love with.