***** Present ****

'Captain we have everything under control here.' How did things go from in control to this? Couldn't even have a funeral. Couldn't even give the Morton's that small comfort.

It had been three days since the memorial service. Lee was sitting in Jamie's office waiting for the doctor. Will had asked Crane to meet him for coffee but Lee suspected there was more to it than just getting together. Checking up on him seemed like the more plausible reason for the meeting. The skipper reminded himself that they were just concerned for him. Making sure their Captain was alright. Captain. And ' you are the Captain, Captain.' One of the privileges of being Captain. This certainly wasn't one of them. Life and death decisions came with the job. Crane was trained to make them, had made them in the past and while they were always hard and always hurt, it was never like this.

Lee was interrupted from his thoughts when Will entered the office.

"Sorry I'm late Captain. Had an incident in one of the loading bays that required my immediate attention."

"Anything serious?"

"No, crewman Philips managed to drop a crate on his foot. He'll have to stay off of it and ice it down but he should be back to light duty before the week is out. He was lucky the crate wasn't full or he probably would have broken it."

Crane just nodded as the doctor filled him in on the incident. Will could tell that the skipper wasn't really focused on their conversation. It was defiantly time to sit down with him and talk about the events of the last week. A change of scenery might do them some good, so Jamie decided to take the Captain to a small coffee shop just off NIMR grounds.

The drive was quiet. Lee just stared out the passenger side window watching the world pass him by. It seemed that everyone else had things to do, places to be, except Crane. Nelson decided to put Seaview out of service for the next few weeks to allow the crew some personal time. Truth was Nelson felt he needed the time more than the crew, and knew Lee needed it even more. The Admiral had insisted Lee take some time off and get away from the Institute for awhile. With no missions coming up all there was to do was sit and contemplate what had transpired. Lee didn't want to think about it anymore; he just wanted something to do, to take his mind off the constant replay in his head.

After several minutes of silence at the coffeehouse table, in an almost inaudible voice, Lee asked, "did I make the right decision?"

"You did what you had to do."

"Was it? Or did I make it based on something else?

"Something else?"

"Did I choose to save one over the other? Did I pick Nelson because of all those people at risk? Did I pick the Admiral so people wouldn't say he chose to save Chip, his best friend, over all those people? Or did I let Chip die because I'm closer to the Admiral?"

"You took the only option available to you. You came up with a plan that gave you the best odds at saving both. And if the bomb hadn't gone off early, I dare say you would have rescued everyone on base 21 as well."

Will paused and looked at his young Captain who was staring into his coffee cup. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a silver key and slid it across the table. Crane glanced at the key then up at Jamie.

"What is this?" asked the bewildered skipper.

"The key to my cabin. I think you should go up there and take some time, work some things out. Hopefully come to the same conclusion that we all have . . . it's not your fault," insisted Jamieson.

"I can't just leave. I . . ."

Will raised his hand to halt Lee's protest and explained, "I already talked it over with the Admiral and he agrees completely. Seaview won't be going out for awhile and we don't need you for the eight to five operations at the Institute. We won't have a course of action until the investigation concludes. Until then you're no use to the crew like this. Go, take a week, and then maybe we can go after these guys.

Deciding that Jamie was probably right Lee agreed to take the week and try and regroup. He had to get his focus back if he was going to be any good. He had a new mission now, the only thing that he could do for Chip. Find whoever started all of this and bring them to justice.


The man in the leather jacket entered the office to find his boss standing in front of the large windows at the back. The dark haired gentleman at the window was well dressed and in his early fifties. The boss failed to turn his gaze from the busy street below as the man gave his report.

"Sir, all went well with team three. They were able to transfer most of the computer files needed before they blew the base and with the doctor's help should be able to reproduce the entire project in a couple of months. Team two was slightly less successful. They managed to blow up the conference center but Nelson did manage to escape. Also one of our operatives was arrested," reported the younger man.

"Excellent. We can move to phase two. I want you to start tailing Crane. I'm going to go back to the manor. Looks like I will have to prepare for company," instructed the boss then he waved his hand to dismiss the young man.

The man turned and started to walk towards then door.

"Oh and make sure you take care of that little problem with our operative. I would hate to find out there was someone giving away our secrets in exchange for less jail time," ordered the older man.

"I will take care of it sir," answered the employee as he left the office to start his task.

The End

(Story 1/5)

Thank-you to everyone who read this story.

Thank-you very much to everyone who took the time to review this story (especially anyone who reviewed more than once) it's very appreciated.

A special thanks to belonginthedark for the beta work!

This story is also posted on Seaview Stories for the contest A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #20.