A/N: Again, haven't proofread - or even reread, seeing as I typed it straight onto the computer without writing a hard-copy first, so it's probably crap. Sorry. Check again in a week or so, I may have changed it.
I stood in one of those cute little red phone booths by the seaside, a towel around my shoulders, shivering. Dad and Gavin stood outside, peering nervously through the glass and trying to read my lips.
"Courtenay? Is that you?" I rolled my eyes.
"Of course it's me, Mum. I'm on a payphone, so I don't have long." I started to tap one fingernail on the glass in impatience. Why was I doing this? I hated my mother. We couldn't live together now if you paid us.
Which was, of course, what Dad planned to do. "Well, what do you want, then?" she asked impatiently.
I gasped. "Mum! It's your daughter calling, remember, the one you haven't spoken to in two and a half years? Haven't you been watching the news?"
"The news?" she asked. I could tell she had.
"Yeah, the bit about the government refusing to save the rebel pirate radio station that I happen to work for?" I closed my eyes and rested my head against the glass. I'd be having nightmares for years.
I felt like the Little Mermaid, buried under so much crushing water like too many blankets in summer, struggling to find which way was up.
Ahead, the Count's American-made boots flashed in front of my eyes. I wriggled my own feet, cursing myself for not wearing less clothing that morning as my thick woollen jumper pulled me down.
In the depths of my suffocation, I recognised the irony of the situation. I'd dived back into the bowels of the sinking ship to save a man I'd made a hefty pretence of hating since first we met. But I knew – well, I hoped – he'd have done the same for me had I been the stubborn one.
I thought then, for the first time, that the Count was probably the best friend I had, besides Carl. Ordinarily, that wasn't something I wanted to know, but right then, when I was about to die for him, it was ok.
Gavin had gone to get him right before we evacuated, but had come back empty-handed. That wasn't good enough for me. I'd dived back down into the already-submerged chambers of Radio Rock to find him.
He was still broadcasting when I got there, up to his neck in water. As I treaded water and watched expectantly, the radio equipment gave a final squeak and died. "Come on," I called desperately. "We've got to go!" He nodded and dived.
Now I was drowning, slowly and painfully, as I waited for him to get his fat arse through the door. I'd heard someone say once that drowning was supposed to be a nice way to die, peaceful and tranquil. With roaring in my ears and my head threatening to explode, lungs screaming, every muscle hurting through lack of oxygen, I really wanted to find that person and hold them underwater too. It fucking hurt. Peace was the last thing on my mind.
The Count finally managed to push himself through the door – I'm sure it would have been easier had the ship not been tilted alarmingly so that the door was above our heads – and I kicked my way after him, my vision blurring, eyes burning from the salt water.
Ahead, the Count's coat got caught on the doorknob. I swore as loudly as I could in my head, but I still couldn't hear it over the constant roar of the water pouring in over the top of us. I felt my oxygen leaking away drop by drop as I stopped to help him; by the time I'd untwisted the leather jacket, all I could see was vague shapes in the dark as my brain shut down.
Then all was darkness.
"Yes, I heard," Mum said quietly. "Tom rang and told me. Are you all right?"
My eyes flickered open again at the note of concern in her voice, the only thing that gave away the fact that surely she must have been worried for me. "I'm fine, Mum," I whispered. "But I… I need somewhere to stay until I can get back on my feet again."
There was a long silence, and for a minute I thought she was going to refuse. "Of course, darling. Of course you can stay here."
I took a deep breath in. "Um… It's just… Dad needs somewhere too."
Another long silence. I made a face at Dad through the window and he smiled wearily back. "He can't stay here. Courtenay, sweetheart, your father can find his own place."
"Well…" I held his eyes through the glass. "Mum, he's got nowhere else to go. You won't even know he's there, honestly. None of us. Dad will pay rent for the three of us –"
"Three of you?" I flinched. Oops. "Who else are you bringing?"
"Um…" I fought back a momentary urge to giggle at what her reaction was going to be. "Have you heard of Gavin Kavanagh?"
I coughed violently and, as though in slow motion and on fire, vomited agonisingly all over the deck of the boat.
Then I registered that I was on a boat and opened my eyes. They screamed in agony at their exposure to the air, still stinging from their recent salt bath. My chest hurt, and my throat was aching from the coughing I was still doing. But as my eyes teared up and calmed down, I registered a face.
Gavin knelt over me, his hands still in CPR position underneath my breasts, tears streaking down his face. "Come on, Court," he said desperately. I coughed weakly.
"Okay," I said finally. He looked up, hope shining through his face; I tried to smile but every inch of me hurt.
"Courtenay!" he pulled me into the tightest hug I'd ever had. I screamed; he was clutching me so hard that even if I hadn't hurt already my bones would have snapped. "Oh, fuck, sorry," he said, putting me down. "Are you okay?"
"No," I said shortly. "The Count – where's the Count?"
"Right here," came his voice. Gavin helped me to sit up until I could see him, sitting with his back against the side of the yacht we were in and being fussed over by numerous girls. "Thanks for coming back for me."
I smiled weakly. "No problem. Thanks for saving me."
He shrugged nonchalantly. "It wasn't me. I dragged you out of the boat, but I thought you were dead until Gavin started giving you mouth to mouth."
I looked at Gavin. He looked back at me. "Couldn't do it while you were conscious, sweetheart," he said apologetically. I kept staring at him absently. He had saved my life.
So I kissed him; it seemed only fair. After I'd planted my lips on his I realised it was probably less than desirable considering I'd just vomited a stomachful of seawater everywhere, but he seemed to be enjoying it. He clutched me tight again – I flinched – and his tongue flicked around mine in interesting ways.
It was oddly wonderful. As we broke apart the first thing I noticed was the over-patient expression on the Count's face. All right. So many people had told me so. Gavin chuckled again and I looked at his face; he gestured out around us, so I looked. There were hundreds of yachts and dinghies and fishing boats and rowboats surrounding the bubbles and record covers that was once Radio Rock, all carrying devoted fans. On one boat I saw Carl in Marianne's arms, his lips moving in words that I was pretty sure would be 'I told you so' if I was close enough to hear them. On another I saw Dad, grinning knowledgeably at me. Simon, Angus, Mark, Dave and even Bob were all facing the three of us on the one boat, smiling and raising cigarettes or champagne glasses or just hands at us. I saw Mark's lips move, then Dave's mimick the movement, then Angus'.
Gavin bent his head and kissed me again, gently, tenderly, and when we broke apart we echoed the others in unison.
"Rock and Roll."
"Of course I've heard of Gavin Kavanagh," Mum replied. "I used to fall asleep listening to him every night because you wouldn't turn your radio down." There was a hint of a smile in her voice.
"Well," I pressed my advantage, "he saved my life last night and he doesn't have anywhere to go either." That, of course, was the clincher. He saved my life last night. That one did it. She couldn't refuse after that.
"Am I going to have enough room for all three of you?" I breathed out for the first time since I'd mentioned Dad.
"Of course. Gavin and I will share my old room." My stomach wobbled slightly at the thought.
Mum sniffed. "So you're with some rock and roll DJ now?" she asked huffily.
"Come on, Mum, you know how that feels," I told her slyly. She actually laughed.
"Two weeks," she said. "You can bring your horde for two weeks, and I will tolerate your father's presence not a moment longer." I started the long business of thanking her. "And sweetie?" I shut up promptly. "Hold onto him while you can. From my experience it'll be over before you know it."
I looked out at Gavin. He was in deep and serious-looking conversation with Dad – no doubt getting the 'hurt-her-and-you-die' speech – but when he knew I was looking he looked around and grinned at me. I gave him the thumbs-up.
"Thanks, Mum," I said cheerfully. "We're on our way."
I hung up the phone and shut the door behind me. "Well?" asked Dad expectantly.
"Of course we can stay," I said. "But you have to hide behind me every time we walk past her."
Dad looked at Gavin. "Don't get Courtenay pregnant and then leave her," he told him drearily. "You'll regret it later."
We joined the rest of the DJs, still standing on the beach surrounded by fans. I signed a couple of autographs and then caught Dad's eye again. I grabbed Gavin. "We have to go," I said soberly.
And together we walked away from Radio Rock, away from the ocean and the pile of records that people had managed to fish out of it, away from the old life, and towards the new one.
A/N: All right, all right. Lame ending. I honestly hadn't planned to have Gavin and Court actually get together - I thought just one kiss - but the romantic side of me got jealous. It hadn't had enough of an airing in this story. Review please with any final thoughts, thank you so much for sticking with me.
Because all we really are, in the glorious words of his Royal Highness, the Count of Cool, is fans.