A/N: So, I've found another loophole. If you're familiar with my writing, you know I tend to always search for one. And, well, this loophole will involve Carol Bridger's death. They never said exactly how she died, so I'm using that. This story will be set early in the first season, so I'm setting it directly after the last scene in 'Games' so we have a starting point.

Also, to be on the safe side, I'm going to mark it AU. But, it's only because I may have to rewrite a few things in the first season to accommodate for my idea. However, I will try to keep canon whenever possible. I know you're probably thinking, "Come on, so is it AU, or is canon?" All characters will be canon, if that helps. The situations may become AU. Does that make sense? I hope it does. Ah, well, just keep reading. I think you'll like it.

Disclaimer: SeaQuest DSV and its characters are not my creation. They are the creation of Rockne S. O'Bannon as a 1990's television series. This work of fanfiction is for entertainment purposes only and is not for financial gain. I am just borrowing the characters for a bit and promise to return them unharmed and in their original condition, maybe just a bit happier.

Inspiration for the chapter: 21 Guns by Green Day: http (colon, slash, slash) www {DOT} youtube {DOT} com (slash) watch?v+r00ikilDxW4

Chapter 1

Nathan led Kristin down the corridor. "Would you prefer your room or mine?" Nathan asked her. Then, he added, "Don't worry, I'll go slow."

The two didn't hear Lieutenant Krieg coming up behind them. "I think I came into this conversation at a horrible time," he commented.

Nathan and Kristin turned.

"I mean, uh…I hope I'm not interrupting anything," Ben told them.

"I'm not sure what it is you think you heard, Mr. Krieg, but I assure you it's of the professional nature," Kristin said.

"I was just going to give the doctor a little poker lesson," Nathan explained. He turned to Kristin. "You know, Ben here is quite the pro at poker. Would you mind if he tags along?"

"Not at all," Kristin replied with a shrug.

"We could push our weekly game up early," Ben suggested. "Should I round everyone up?"

"If the doctor is okay with it," Nathan said, looking at Kristin expectantly.

"The more the merrier, I suppose."

"Then I guess it's settled. You tell everyone to be in my room in say, an hour? Meanwhile, I'll give the doctor a crash course on the game."

As Ben started to leave, Nathan had one last afterthought. "Oh, and Mr. Krieg?"

"Yes, Captain?"

"You be sure to tell everyone we won't be playing for real money."

Ben's face fell. "But why?"

"Don't think I don't already know what you were thinking," Nathan told him in an accusing tone. "You were thinking since the doctor's a rookie, you were going to soak her out of all her money."

Ben put a hand to his chest. "I'm hurt that you would think such a thing," he replied, trying to sound innocent.

Nathan crossed his arms and gave him a look.

Ben conceded, knowing the captain saw right through him. "Yes, sir."

"Glad you see it my way; see you later."

"Later," Ben called.

As Ben left, Kristin and Nathan continued on their way to Nathan's room.

Once inside, Nathan told Kristin, "Make yourself comfortable. Let me just get the cards and the chips. I'll just be a second."

Kristin sat while Nathan popped out of the room. Her mind wandered a bit as she sat waiting, reflecting on the events of the past few days. She didn't hear Nathan come back into the room, and she jumped a bit when she felt his hand on her shoulder.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," he said as he sat across from her.

She waved a hand. "It's no bother. I was just…thinking about the past few days. It's starting to catch up with me."

"If you think it's too much for you, we can always do this another time," Nathan suggested. "I guess I didn't think about how you might be feeling." The concern was evident in his voice.

She smiled softly. "I'm fine, I promise. I think this is actually what I need. If I go back to my room, alone, I'll probably be up all night tossing and turning. Instead, I could be with some good friend who will help take my mind off things." She reached across the table and gave his hand a squeeze. "And I need to thank you."

"For what?"

"For helping me keep my sanity, for not making what could have been a huge mistake," she admitted. "James would never have forgiven me if I'd…" Her voice trailed off. She didn't need to finish for Nathan to understand what she meant.

"It was no trouble at all, really. So, are you ready?"

She gave him a smile and said, "Of course; we only have a short time, and I want to learn how to beat the pants off of Mr. Krieg."

Nathan chuckled. "Well, Texas Hold 'Em isn't difficult to learn at all." He began shuffling the cards as he explained the rules. And it wasn't long before he and Kristin were playing a practice game.

"I'll see you and raise you fifty," Nathan said, placing a plastic chip in the middle of the table.

Kristin glanced at the cards in her hand and thought for a moment. Then she pushed all the chips in front of her to the pile in the middle of the table. "All in."

"All in?" Nathan echoed. "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"

She smiled slightly. "I might be new to the game of poker, but I do know what I'm doing. Are you intimidated?"

Nathan eyed her for a moment. Kristin might have been new to the game, but she already had mastered the poker face tactic. He certainly couldn't tell if she was bluffing or if she had a good hand. He looked at the five cards in the middle of the table. There was nothing very promising there. An ace, a jack, a six, a four, and a two. Of course, it didn't mean that Kristin didn't have a pair of high cards in her hand. Or she could have nothing at all. After a moment of thinking, he decided to take a chance. He pushed his chips to the middle of the table. "All in."

She smiled and proudly laid her cards out in front of her.

Nathan just stared at them in shock. "Three aces?"

"Read them and weep," she simply said, pulling all the chips towards her.

"I can't believe it. After just one game. Are you sure you've never played before?"

She held up her hand. "I swear it. I guess I just had a good teacher." She gave him a smile.

"Well, I'm glad you've caught on quickly." He glanced at the clock. "We have about twenty minutes before the others will be here. Can I treat you to a snack?"

"That sounds lovely," she replied.

And so, the two headed to the mess for a quick bite to eat. As they sat, Nathan asked, "So are you feeling better?"

"Getting there," she said with a nod.

Nathan stared at her for a moment, determining if she was being sincere. He didn't think she'd intentionally deceive him, but he also had a feeling she might try to mask her feelings as a defense mechanism.

"What?" she finally asked, noticing the fact he was eyeing her.

"Nothing. I just wanted to be sure."

She chuckled softly. "Can I tell you something?"

"Of course."

"When we first met, I never expected you'd be so…kind. In fact, you're more concerned about every person here, and I really love that about you. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I appreciate the fact you make sure everyone is all right with whatever trouble they're having in their lives. I'm just glad you're here." While she was speaking, she looked down into the yogurt cup in front of her, absentmindedly playing with the spoon. But when she was finished, she stole a look at him.

Nathan could see the slight blush on her cheeks. He could tell she felt a little nervous about opening up to him, but he felt the need to assure her he was touched. He reached across the table and took her hand. "I'm glad I'm here too," he assured her, "and I'm glad we're friends."

She gave him a grateful smile, and the two continued to eat and chat quietly. Then they headed back to Nathan's room as the guests would be arriving shortly.

Sure enough, waiting outside Nathan's door were Ben, Katie, and Lucas.

"There you are," Ben called when he saw them. "I thought you'd forgotten."

"We finished the lesson early, so we headed to mess for a snack," Nathan explained.

"You weren't waiting long, were you?" Kristin added.

"Just a few minutes," Katie said.

"Jonathan, Miguel, and Tim should be here shortly," Ben told them.

Nathan opened the door, and everyone filed in behind him. Sure enough, Miguel, Tim, and Jonathan all showed up a few moments later. And so, the cards were dealt, the chips anted, and a rousing game began. Nathan was going to brag about the doctor's skills, but opted not to. He decided he'd let the others find out for themselves, especially since they weren't playing for actual money.

"So what are we playing for?" Lucas finally asked as he placed a bet.

"Maybe we should just have a game for fun without any gains or losses?" Kristin suggested.

"You're not scared, are you?" Ben asked.

Kristin raised an eyebrow at him. "I most certainly am not." She thought for a moment. "Very well. How about we place a little wager?"

"Now you're talking," he replied with a smug smile.

"How about the winner gets a personal slave?" Katie suggested.

"For a week," Lucas added.

"Guys, I'm not sure that's really fair," Tim said. "The doc-"

But Kristin waved a hand. "I appreciate your concern, Mr. O'Neill, but on the contrary, I like that idea."

Tim gave her a look but nodded. "Have it your way then."

"Then it's settled?" Jonathan asked.

Everyone exchanged glances and nodded.

"Ah, now it's getting interesting," Ben said with a smile. "Let's play some poker."

To everyone's amazement, Kristin won the first hand.

As Ben was shuffling the cards, he felt the need to make an excuse. "Well, I'm sure everyone was being easy on you, but that was just the first hand."

"Whatever you say, Mr. Krieg," Kristin said with a smile.

And so, the game continued. Nathan won the second hand, and Lucas won the third. Kristin won the fourth, and by the end of the game, Kristin had the most points.

Ben just stared at the score card in disbelief. "I just can't believe it."

Kristin looked over his shoulder. "What's the matter?" She tried to sound sympathetic, but the smile on her face couldn't be masked.

"I lost."

She placed a hand on his shoulder. "There, there, Mr. Krieg. I'll go easy on you."

After everyone got in a few jokes at Ben's expense, Nathan finally said, "All right, people, let's call it a night. Some of us need to be on the bridge early in the morning."

Everyone said goodnight and headed back to their rooms.

Kristin lagged behind. "I'll help you clean up," she offered.

"Thank you. So, did you have fun?" Nathan asked as he started gathering up the cards.

With chips in her hand, she nodded. "More fun than I've had in a while. You really do this all the time?"

"Every Friday night. I take it you'll be joining us from now on?"

She nodded. "I never knew what I was missing."

"Well, we'll be glad to have you. I think you'll give Mr. Krieg a run for his money…literally."

She chuckled. "I'm sure he was just having an off night. Or I was just lucky."

"Well, whatever it was, I'm glad you won. So, what are you going to have him do?"

She thought for a moment. "Well, breakfast in bed isn't a bad start. AndI suppose my room could use a good cleaning."

"With a toothbrush?" Nathan suggested.

She smiled. "Perhaps." As the cards and chips were put away, she turned to him and gave him a gentle hug. "Thank you for a wonderful night."

Nathan returned the hug. "The pleasure was all mine. Goodnight, Doctor."

"Sleep well," she called as she closed the door behind her.

The next morning was uneventful. Kristin did have her breakfast in bed, however. But, after that, everyone began working as usual. By mid-morning, Nathan decided to head to medbay.

"Good morning," Nathan greeted cheerily.

Kristin turned to him. "Good morning. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Sheer boredom," Nathan replied honestly.

Kristin laughed. "Things aren't much better over here, I'm afraid."

"Well, normally, I'd welcome the general lull, but-"

At that moment, Nathan's PAL buzzed. "Uh, Captain?" Lieutenant O'Neill's voice sounded through the device.

"Yes?"

"There's an emergency call for you."

"Route it to Dr. Westphalen's office please; that's where I am," Nathan told him.

"Very well," Tim replied as he cut the link.

A moment later, a man's face appeared on the screen. "Captain Nathan Bridger?"

"Yes…"

"I'm Detective Alejandro Vasquez. My partner and I have been investigating the death of your wife," he stated.

Deciding this was a private matter, Kristin whispered. "I'm going to go see what Lucas is up to." With that, she quickly left the room, closing the door behind her.

Nathan turned back to the screen. "Just what is this about?"

"We've been investigating your wife's suspicious death. We're faxing over a search warrant," he told him, holding it up to the screen.

Nathan read what was up on the screen. "You're searching my home? And just what are you expecting to find?"

"Captain Bridger, you even said you thought your wife's death seemed suspicious." He took out a file and began reading, "I came home from sailing, and I found her. I guessed she had fallen down the stairs. Her head was bleeding. I immediately administered CPR, but it was too late." After a moment, the detective looked at him again. "Is this the statement you gave to police after your wife's death?"

Nathan nodded. "And it's the truth."

"So you say; our department just wants to be sure of that."

"Let me get this straight; are you trying to say she was murdered?" Nathan finally asked.

"We're just trying to be sure," the detective explained again.

"And just what do you expect to find? It's been almost a year."

"You just let us worry about that," Detective Vasquez explained. And, with that, he cut the link before Nathan could say anything more.