AN: There will be several chapters/parts (currently around 6 and counting) I've become a big fan of SP in the last few months having discovered it by accident on UK TV.
More of the crew appear again in the next chapter, but initially little of Kate/Mike. I've included Ryan, but given him his own nickname to distinguish between him and Maxine.
Disclaimer - Not owned by me, just borrowed for a while.
1. A Night Off
"Guava Mojo's!" announced Charge enthusiastically placing a tray on the table.
"Thanks Charge!" Bomber responded as everyone helped themselves and she waved her glass in the air.
The crew of the Hammersley were sharing a night out at their home base in Cairns. Bomber and Sally had both ventured out with the crew, giving them a rare chance at catching up with friends. For Sally and Swain it was a rare night out as a couple while their 4 year old daughter was being taken care of by a neighbour for a few hours.
In one corner the new Gap year student, Ryan "Buck" White and Bird were sharing stories over soft drinks as the team had carefully avoided allowing them alcohol.
The bar was buzzing with several ships in dock as it became home to celebrating sailors. As an outsider you could often wonder how it survived a quiet night when all the ships were out as most of its patrons were connected with the shipyard down the street.
"Hey! Surprise, you got room for 2 more to join the party?" A voice echoed behind the group and they all looked up, Dutchy glanced at the others and noticed the delighted look of his shipmates and realised the new arrivals were well known to them.
"Buff! Spider!" Bomber almost squealed and hugged them before being pulled back to her seat by a slightly jealous 2-dads.
"Always room for 2 more," boomed Charge, as the rest of the table greeted their old shipmates. "How are you guys? Wasn't expecting you to drop in."
"Yeah well, we heard you were partying without us," grinned Buffer.
"Thought you were based out of Melbourne now, moved on to better things," 2-dads added.
"Yeah, we are, we're on our way back to base from a good will visit to Malaysia and had to stop over for something or other, so we got ourselves a free pass to look up the old gang."
"It's good to see you." Swain smiled.
"It's good to be back, is everyone here?" Buffer asked looking around.
"Not yet, our former CO may drop in later, the former X is now CO and on her way to Canberra for a course. We got ourselves a new X started last patrol."
"And the new X?" He added, like he was drawing blood from a stone.
"I doubt it," muttered RO in his usual style.
"Not drinking Dutchy?" asked 2-dads noticing he hadn't touched the drink Charge had brought.
"I'll pass, I know what happened the last time we were faced with the mojo, 'scuse me I'm going for beer, anyone want anything?"
"Beer's good, Spide?" answered Buffer.
"You're not going to pass up the mojo, are you?" he replied reaching for Dutchy's untouched glass as the other man walked away.
Dutchy looked around while waiting to be served and saw her sitting alone at the bar. She looked about his age, her hair fell in soft curls around her shoulders, she had an air of grace and elegance about her, like she didn't belong there, that she wasn't comfortable there. He offered her a polite smile as her eyes met his after looking around.
"Dutchy, what can I get you?" the bartender asked.
"2 beers," the guy turned away, "hey Frank, who's the lady?" He gestured to the woman at the bar after the man turned around.
"No idea, she came in about 20 minutes ago, seems like she's waiting for someone."
"Get her whatever she wants." Dutchy instructed, "looks like she could use it."
"Sure, whatever you say." Frank answered, with a mischievous grin, "she's out of your league you know."
"So where would the challenge be if she wasn't?" he grinned, keeping half an eye on the woman as she checked her messages on her phone.
The bartender went about his business dropping the two beers in front of Dutchy before approaching the woman, he watched them speak for a moment then she looked over and smiled. He half saluted her and turned back to the table with the Hammersley crew, who were involved in some loud discussion. He handed Buffer the bottle of beer and headed back to the bar, but she had disappeared. He looked around then caught sight of her outside standing against the railing of the balcony overlooking the Marina. Edging through the crowds he made his way outside and stood next to her.
She looked across to him, "thank you for the drink."
"You're welcome, looks like you were stood up, anyone important?" Dutchy asked leaning on the railing.
"A friend, we were supposed to meet here after she docked, but I just got a message that she won't be in until tomorrow."
"Navy?" He questioned.
She ignored the possible double meaning of the question. "HMAS Kingston. They hit a tropical storm and had to deal with a number of maydays."
"I heard there was one coming, they can be nasty if you're at sea. So that's your friend, what about you?" He smoothly moved from one conversation to steer them to another.
"I've just arrived in town, I'm heading north tomorrow to see my father for a few days before starting a new job," she admitted.
"So how far north are we talking?" he asked.
"Just west of Port Douglas, he owns a ranch on the edge of the Platypus Creek Scientific Area."
"And the new job?" he asked, causing her to look at him again.
"You ask a lot of questions." She stated, shutting down the interrogation for a moment or two.
"I'm sorry, goes with the job. I'm used to dealing with foreign fishermen and illegals, Petty Officer Dylan Mulholland, my ship mates call me Dutchy," he turned to face her and held out his hand.
"Elena Larkin," she answered simply, holding out her hand and shaking his. "Nice to meet you and thank you for the drink, but I have to go, I need to find a place to stay tonight." She put down her wine glass and settled her bag strap on her shoulder.
"You're disappearing on me already?" He joked, taking her hand.
"I'm sure we'll run into each other again, but with a friend still at sea my accommodation for tonight is inaccessible so I have to find a motel or something."
"Have you eaten yet?" he asked, holding her gaze and ignoring the comment about accommodation.
"No, Megan and I were going to eat together, but I'll find something, there's got to be a restaurant or something around here that's still open."
"We'll if you don't object to sea food I know this great little place up the coast a few miles, no sailors or tourists and the sea view is to die for."
She smiled and pulled her hand back, "I don't think that's a good idea,"
He shook his head and grinned at her, "why waste a good evening? I promise I won't ask too many questions."
Elena thought for a moment, it had been a long time since anyone had taken an interest in her and she was tempted, but something still held her back.
"Don't you want to spend the time with your friends?" she asked stalling again.
"They're catching up with some old crew, I doubt they'd miss me, besides, nothing can beat the company of a good woman."
Elena grinned, "and you think I'm good?" she taunted, gaining a slightly surprised glance in return.
"Well," he stalled a little in return, "I'd like the chance to find out."
"Don't you ever take no for an answer?" she asked, wondering what it would be like to say yes.
"Do you seriously want me to?" he chuckled, "Come on, I can see you're tempted, ... what harm can it do? ... One night, a bit of fun, dinner and a drive."
"You're right, I am tempted, but-"
"No buts, tell me when was the last time you were made an offer like this?"
She thought for a moment. "I honestly can't remember an offer like this, ... you don't have to feel sorry for me, I'm quite capable of taking care of myself."
"Who said anything about feeling sorry for you? You're a beautiful woman, a single one judging by the lack of a ring on your finger and what would be wrong in having a friendly chat over dinner?"
"And that's all? A friendly chat over dinner?"
"I'll be the perfect gentleman."
"Really? Why does that surprise me?" She knew she was taking a bit of a risk, she'd only just met the guy and there was a sense of taboo about him, but she was taken in by his eyes and his smile and for once she wanted to ignore the consequences and see where this led. Taunting him, watching his face light up with an amused smirk made her stomach flutter.
"You doubt me?" He asked.
"They do say sailors have a girl in every port. ... You look like you're the type of guy who'd fit that description."
"My ship mates might agree with you, but they don't know that of the three girls they've seen me with only one wasn't related and she was an old school friend. I might seem like the traditional sailor, but I'm happy to prove your theory wrong."
"Another time, I have things I need to do." She answered sweetly and turned to go, Dutchy watched her walk away, not exactly sure what just happened.
"Dutchy?" Swain called opening the door to the bar and sticking his head out, "Frank said you were out here, we're going to order food, do you want anything?"
Dutchy was still watching the stairs where the woman disappeared a moment earlier, he finally realised that someone was talking to him and turned to Swain.
"No, thanks, something just came up, I'll see you in a couple of days." He answered.
"The blonde at the bar?" Swain asked with a cheeky grin.
"She's something else."
"She turned you down then?" he questioned.
"You know I like a challenge."
"Good luck mate." Dutchy nodded as Swain ducked back inside and then he hurried down the steps to the parking lot, just in time to see her approach a convertible car.
"I always thought Cinderella's pumpkin had turned back into mice when she ran from the ball," he greeted standing in front of her as she opened the door, she looked over.
"And I suppose you're comparing yourself to the Prince?" she retorted with a hint of a challenge in her voice.
He grinned and shrugged, "why not? At least he tried to go after what he wanted."
"So now I'm Cinderella and you're the prince? If I remember rightly didn't that all end badly?"
"Only at first, it all worked out in the end," he answered smugly, "you saying you're not willing to try?"
"Do you always turn up like a bad penny?" she asked pausing for a moment against the open door.
"I think I like the Prince analogy better," he chuckled.
"Me too and we both know he didn't get what he wanted on their first meeting, now can you please move so I can leave?" she asked sweetly.
"Fine, if that's really what you want, but you'll kick yourself in the morning when you wonder what a fun night you passed up." He turned and walked away.
She watched for a few seconds and let out a deep breath, "Petty Officer Mulholland, stop right there," she commanded, making him stop; he smiled to himself before he turned around. "I'm probably going to regret this tomorrow, but what the hell, you've talked me into it."
He walked back to her and stopped in front of her. "See, that wasn't so hard." He mused, reaching out and gliding his hand down her hair and resting it along her jaw.
"You'd better make this worth my while," she announced, "after all I'll be giving up a good book and a night in front of a motel TV."
"Trust me, Elena, if nothing else it will be memorable." He answered, feeling her shiver as he said her name.
"Then let's get out of here." She stepped back breaking the physical contact and she held up her keys, "you can drive."
Please let me know what you think ... and thanks for reading