Post-ep for Flotsam and Jetsam, 4.15. After the last night's happy ending, it was so hard to write angst in this story. But never fear, of course this story will have a happy ending. And I've been considering a longer (with progressive chapters) story after the next, and last, post-ep to be written and published.

Author's note: I've forgotten to add this to the last few narratives, but the song-based titles have been-

Don't Speak by No Doubt.
So Close by Jon McLaughlin. (From the Enchanted Soundtrack)
Never Again by Kelly Clarkson.
Back to the Start by Lily Allen.

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.

Enjoy. And please review.


Don't Speak

The speed at which Lieutenant Kate McGregor left the ship was impressive. Normally the last off the bridge and one of the last to depart from the ship's company, it was a strange sight for the crew to see her, dressed in whites, saluting and disembarking before the junior sailors. Most assumed that she had somewhere more important to be—and she was running late—but to a handful of sailors that had guessed it was something else, their later conversations at the bar would divulge some very concerned feelings for their Executive Officer.

Her commanding officer searched for her in the bridge, the officers' mess and the XO's cabin for at least a period of ten minutes before his buffer advised him of her whereabouts. Now it wasn't just the senior sailors with an expression of concern. He returned to his cabin and changed into his whites fast. The paperwork he had planned could wait.

The taxi rank was empty, both of vehicles and sailors. By now, most of his crew would have been on their way to a pub or bar, but he knew that one member would not have gone with them. Would she have gone home? Where was she?

Her house seemed an obvious choice, but as he stood by the sign, waiting for the next cab to arrive, he could see a flash of white in the distance. Admittedly, it was quite a discernable distance. It could have been anyone. He couldn't differentiate between an officer and senior sailor uniform. He couldn't even determine gender. But, nevertheless, he walked in that direction, instincts speaking to him on a more intimate level than his eyes. His intuition hadn't led him astray so far and today was no different.

Kate didn't know he was there until his palms touched the same cool metal as hers. The railing was the only thing supporting her body in an upright position, and the only thing stopping her from going into the drink.

"Are you okay?" His direct question was imposing and undeviating.

She didn't want to answer him. And he'd only left her with one of two possible answers. Lie—that was one possibility. Or she could finally let the cat out of the bag. She could give him something conclusive to swallow.

"Do you want to tell me what's wrong?"

An incredulous sound was the only response he received. In Kate's opinion, it was the only sort of answer he deserved. For how long, she wondered, was he going to continue to torture her?

"Kate?"

"If you don't know by now, then I'm not going to tell you. I wouldn't want to waste my time."

He turned and looked at her seriously, his expression not well masking the hurt and confusion in his eyes. "Why do I feel like this is it?"

"Because it is," she replied quickly. "I was foolish to think we could go back to the way we were before we slept together. And I was so unbelievably moronic to think that we could pick up where we left off when one of us finally got a transfer. And you? I don't know..."

"What are you saying?"

"It was never going to work between us, Mike." Her tone flattened. Her eyes focused directly ahead, past his. A tiny hand was forming a fist around the metal bar.

"Kate-"

She stepped away from the water and pressed a hand to his chest. "No, listen to me. You know it and so do I. We've known for a long time."

"I don't understand. Why are you saying this now? We're close. So close."

"No. We're not. Maybe we were months ago while you were at NAVCOM."

"What do you want from me?"

She wanted nothing more than to express her anger physically, to shove him over the railing and into the blue. But her tender heartache was making it impossible. There was barely enough strength left in her to say what she needed to.

Mike simply appeared lost and confused, two emotions that Kate would've swapped anything for any day. "Whatever you want, I'll... I'll find a way."

Was he... begging? Or just making the most personal argument possible? It sounded like the former. Mike didn't beg... for anything. Ever. So what was it about Kate that had him so lost for rational reasoning?

After minutes of silence, he finally asked, "Are you sure about this?" His tone was dead. His spirit was crushed. The battle was lost and he had been defeated.

But Kate didn't take it as a sweet victory. "What can I say to convince you? I love you, but I love me more?" she snorted at herself. "Something cliché along those lines? Will that do the trick?

"It sounds like you're trying to reassure yourself."

She didn't mirror his sentiment. "I'm exhausted, Mike. I'm tired of the same old lines and the same old decisions. Neither one of us is willing to give up a part of ourselves to be with each other, the most important part, so it is never going to work."

"That's not true," Mike countered. He wanted to step closer to her, but not even the shining sunlight could warm the icy wind between them.

She stared directly into his blue eyes. Her next question was the most important she had to ask, and she wanted to gauge his response. "Can you tell me right now that I matter more to you than this ship?"

"Kate-"

"It was rhetorical. I already know the answer."