A short filler in my series and post-ep for Rumble in the Jungle. Enjoy.
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.
Back to the Start
Silence. Nought but silence. Outside, she could hear the screeching tyres of other cars, the churning wheels of their own one, the constant chatter of unorganised clumps of pedestrians on the sidewalk, but inside... there was nothing. No noise. No movement. Definitely no talking. But most missed of all, there was not a glimpse of emotion from the party beside her.
Usually, Kate could discern his feelings from a single look. It wasn't necessarily in her direction, but it spoke volumes louder than anything he said to her intimately. And Kate had experience enough in reading his body language to know what he was thinking. So why did she get nothing from him? Not a flicker of feeling. Not a nod of appreciation. For a whole three weeks now, and one of them spent together onboard the Hammersley, the only sentences that he'd managed to string together involved the words 'boarding,' 'ship' and 'NAVCOM.'
To be fair, after Maxine had almost caught them in the sack, Kate understood his wariness. She was cautious too. After all, it was probably something that shouldn't have happened and definitely a feeling that they needed to keep under wraps. And so she didn't call him during their two weeks of shore leave. Likewise, he didn't call her. But at work? Why was he still maintaining his arm's length distance? What happened to their 'friendship'?
Her eyes flickered towards the clock on the dashboard, informing her that there was about four minutes left of this trip. They dropped to the contraption just below the time and she wondered if she could get away with turning on the radio. She didn't even know what type of music he listened to. He kept an iPod on dock in his cabin. Maybe she could take a peek? It would serve her well when he finally stepped down from the CO's chair and she could invite him over for dinner again.
The hospital was in visual range now. Kate hoped they'd find a parking spot quickly, somewhere within a very short walking distance from the main entrance. But as it turned out, no such car space existed. In fact, there wasn't a spot to be seen anywhere. Was there an epidemic or some major accident, she wondered. Or did everyone flock to visit their relatives at exactly the same time?
Kate downed her window. The air inside was getting thicker by the moment and Mike was getting increasingly frustrated. They were driving in circles and, somehow, ended up back where they started. Oddly, it mirrored their relationship.
After shifting uncomfortably in her seat and creasing her whites, she pulled the clumped material out from under her to straighten up her pants. When she looked up, Mike was driving passed the exact same line of cars as he had been just minutes ago. And none had moved. Around and around the same tarmac they went, over the same bumps, making the same left and right turns. Déjà vu squared.
Mike banged a fist on the steering wheel angrily when he saw another car parking where he had been not two minutes ago. Kate lifted an eyebrow comically. At least he eventually showed some emotion. But then they settled back into the same tense situation, same disheartening exploration. She busied herself with a button on her shirt.
She looked up. The blinker was on. The car was readied. The departing vehicle was backing out. Success was nigh. They had found car spot.
Mike looked beside after he pulled the car to a halt. His colleague had already the closed the door behind her. He sighed. They were back to the beginning again. Tension. Apprehension. Each avidly avoided the difficult situations. They didn't even eat together in the officer's mess.
She didn't want to turn around. She wanted to walk the distance alone. Or at least continue the silence. Did he finally want to talk?
"Yes." She turned.
Had she really left that behind in her rush to get out of the car? He handed it to her. "Thanks."
Three words. None of them carrying any sort of message or meaning. Or sentiment. He was starting to become as infuriatingly painful as the situation they had, once again, been thrust into.
The dual automatic doors were not far away. Mike was walking at a gruff speed and Kate was struggling to keep up. She didn't mind walking ahead of him, but she wasn't going to spend her whole life tailing him. Their pace was matched, foot for foot, until they approached the door. Kate stopped. It took Mike a few strides more, but he followed suit.
"Is there some reason why we're standing here?" His brows had furrowed and he was looking at her with an intense passion. Finally. "Are you okay?"
"Is anything about this situation okay?"
Mike sighed again, his nostrils flared. "Strange place for this conversation." His legs were attempting to move towards the door, to enter the building and check on Bird like they had planned on doing. But if Kate wanted a talk, there was no stopping her.
"It's been weeks, Mike. We can't just ignore it and pretend that it didn't happen. And if Commander White hadn't interrupted then I'm sure it would've continued for much longer."
Mike stepped closer to her and lowered his voice. "I'm not sure how talking about this will do anything for our situation. We just need to play the waiting game for a little longer."
"Until we have another slip-up?" Kate pondered aloud. She was poking fun at him and he knew it. "The situation hasn't changed in our favour and it just keeps getting worse."
"What you mean 'so'?"
"So we wait until it does."
Kate turned away from him, biting her lip.
"There's nothing more I can do right now," he said unconvincingly.
She shook her head and started towards the door again. He followed, defeated. The conversation was definitely over... for now.