AN - I'm so sorry it's taken me this long to get this chapter up! And I'm also sorry that this chapter is kinda short. Thank you so much for the reviews on the first chapter, I really appreciate them :)
Sea Patrol and its characters do not belong to me.
Mike fiddled nervously with the hat he was carrying as he made his way up to the door of Kate's house. It had been three months since he had last visited her house. That last visit was an evening spent drinking wine and planning their trip to Tahiti, the atmosphere that evening had been brimming with optimism with Kate's then likely promotion promising more evenings spent the same way. But then the path of life decided to take a different route, with the following three months throwing up unexpected obstacles which forced them apart.
Mike paused as he reached the doorstep; he wiped his clammy palms down the stiff material of his formal uniform, and took a deep breath in an attempt to calm the anxious writhing feeling in his stomach. He knocked firmly on the smooth, white wood of the door and took a step back in anticipation of its opening. When the door remained closed Mike knocked again, and failing to elicit a response tried the handle of the door, which, unimpeded by its lock, rotated easily in his grip. Mike eased open the door, "Kate?" he called out, his voice sounding overly loud in the empty hallway. "I'm in the lounge" Kate called back.
Entering the house Mike made his way to the lounge and found Kate standing in front of the lounge window; the tall windows framed her body making her look small and lost. Mike hesitated, unsure of how to break the silence that hung between them, he placed the hat he had been carrying on the corner of the couch and moved towards Kate. "Are you okay?" he asked, even though he could tell from looking at her, Kate was anything but.
Kate turned to face Mike; her face was masked by tiredness, and the pain of loss. It made him feel so helpless; all he wanted to do was make things right between them. "I feel so guilty" Kate replied, her voice trembled with emotion.
"Your decision to let them go ahead was right. It's not your fault that they disobeyed orders to leave" Mike assured Kate. The death of the two men had in no way been her fault, and Mike had made this point very clear in his report of the accident.
"No", Kate shakes her head as she moves towards Mike, "that's not what I mean".
"Then what is it?" Mike asks, his forehead creasing in confusion.
Kate takes a deep breath and steadies herself, "after I met you for coffee I went and tried on a wedding dress. And that's when I knew I would never marry Jim".
"Did you tell him?" Mike asks.
Kate shook her head, and Mike nodded, understanding now the source of Kate's guilt.
"There's only one person I could ever imagine marrying", Kate raised her eyes and looked up at Mike.
"Hey," Mike said, his voice barely perceptible under the weight of emotion, "me too".
Mike and Kate stood still for a moment, both letting the full impact of the words which had passed between them sink in. And then Mike couldn't stand it any longer, he moved forward, closing the gap between them and wrapped his arms tightly around Kate. Kate buried her head in Mike's chest and for the first time since the accident it felt like she was standing on solid ground.
They stood like that for what felt like hours until Mike reached up and gently smoothed his hand over Kate's hair, he bent down and kissed her lightly on the forehead, "we should probably get going" he felt Kate nod in agreement against his chest. Taking a small step back, Mike ran his hands down Kate's arms, taking her hands in his own. "After the memorial service, we'll talk", "yeah" Kate agrees with a squeeze of his hands, "before we leave though, I think I need to go and clean myself up a bit". Mike takes in Kate's face, her eyes were red from tears, and those which had escaped had left traces in her make-up. "That's a good idea. You're a mess Kate McGregor" Mike teased, letting go of her hands and taking a seat on the couch. Kate smiled, and headed to the bathroom to re-do her make-up.