Wolenczak Villa, same night…
The moment they entered the villa, they were descended upon by everyone.
Leading the pack was, of course, Kristen.
She pulled Lucas into a tight embrace, nearly squeezing the life out of him, and then held him at arm's length.
"You foolish, foolish child!" she scolded, giving him a small shake. "How could you do such a thing! You could have been killed! I…I…I have half a mind to march upstairs, get my hairbrush, and use it on you!"
"Oh, please," Lucas begged, wincing. "Anything but that! My butt can't take anymore!"
He reached back to rub his still sore posterior.
Kristen frowned, glancing at Bridger for an explanation.
"Uh, Lucas and I already had a little 'discussion' about tonight," he said, clearing his throat. "Of course, I didn't have a hairbrush but…I managed."
"He got his point across," the boy assured them. "Loud and clear, trust me."
"Ouch," Ben whistled, smiling.
"Tell me about it," Lucas said, smirking. "Guess you're gonna have to watch your step from now on, huh Ben?"
Ben laughed at that.
"Kid," he said, pulling the boy into a headlock. "After the scare you gave us—I'd say you deserved it."
"Hey," Lucas complained. "You're supposed to be on my side!"
"I am," Ben told him, rubbing his hair. "And I'm glad you're safe, kiddo."
He hugged him, tightly.
"We all are, Lucas," Katie said, kissing him on the cheek while Tim and Miguel patted him on the back.
The boy blushed all the way to his toes, causing them all to burst out laughing.
"There is still one thing I am curious about," Bridger said, draping an arm over Lucas' shoulders.
"What's that?" the boy asked, curiously.
"How it is no one, not even Noyce, knows that you're only fourteen years old?" he asked, giving him a pointed look.
"Fourteen!" the others, except for Kristen, exclaimed in surprise.
Lucas swallowed. "Well," he said, looking down at his sneakers, "I, uh, I sorta lied…"
"Oh?" Bridger asked, raising an eyebrow. "About…"
"It wasn't Lawrence's idea for me to get on SeaQuest," the boy admitted. "It was mine."
They all continued to raise eyebrows at him.
"I sent the original email to the admiral that was supposed to be from my dad," Lucas explained, hesitantly.
The captain nodded. "About discipline problems and all that…" he guessed, shaking his head.
"Yeah," he said, sheepishly. "I figured I needed a reason that they would be wanting to get rid of me—besides, the truth that they just didn't give a damn—and also explained the idea for the vocorder…"
"Then," Bridger said, knowingly, "you changed your computer records so that they all said you were sixteen—knowing that you stood a better chance of being allowed on board if you were older."
Again, Lucas nodded.
"Yeah," he said. "Lawrence didn't know anything about it until the admiral called him and asked him to bring me to SeaQuest. He was so busy with his work that he didn't even question it."
"Why, you little sneak," he said, reaching out to rub his head again. "I'd better watch out otherwise my title of all time prankster is gonna be gone!"
Lucas rolled his eyes. "Oh, please, I could out prank you in my sleep," he told him, smiling.
He then looked at the captain worriedly. "Are you going to tell?" he asked, hesitantly.
Bridger scratched his chin. "I think I have to, Lucas," he told him, quietly.
"But he'll make me leave SeaQuest!" The boy protested, loudly.
"No, he isn't," the captain assured him. "We still need you, Lucas, and once he learns I'm adopting you…"
"What!?" Everybody exclaimed, staring at him wide-eyed.
"The captain wants to be my dad," Lucas said, smiling. "Isn't that great!?"
"Are you sure?" Kristen asked, placing a hand on Bridger's shoulder.
Bridger smiled, glancing down at the smiling child looking up at him.
"I've never been more certain in my life," he said, wrapping an arm around his future son.
"Good," Kristen said, smiling at Lucas. "Because, well, if you weren't going to volunteer I was going to force you…"
"Force me?" Bridger asked, smirking. "How might I ask?"
"Oh," the good doctor said, smirking. "I have my ways…"
"Better watch out, Capt'n," Ben told him, smirking.
Bridger rolled his eyes.
"When I want to hear from the peanut gallery, Mr. Krieg," he said. "I'll let you know."
Lucas laughed, and they all smiled.
It was too long since they'd heard his clear, infectious laughter.
"All right," Kristen declared, firmly. "Now that everyone is safe and sound, I think it's time we headed up for bed. We have a launch to catch in the morning."
They all nodded, and trotted up the stairs to their room.
Before going to bed himself, though, Bridger stopped in to check on Lucas.
He found him out on the balcony.
"Hey there, kiddo," he called out to him. "You're supposed to be in bed."
Lucas turned and smiled.
Coming back in, he closed the balcony doors and jumped onto his bed.
"That's made for sleeping, not jumping," Bridger reminded him with mock-sternness.
Lucas rolled his eyes and got under the covers. "Yes, Dad," he said, sarcastically.
"Giving me lip already, huh?" he asked. "Well then, I guess I'm just going to have to…"
He started tickling him, mercilessly.
"All right, all right," Lucas pleaded, laughing. "Stop or I'm gonna pee on myself!"
"Well, we wouldn't want you to die of embarrassment," the captain said, smiling. "So, I guess I'll accept your surrender."
Lucas smiled, but then just looked at him. "Would you mind?" he asked, quietly.
"Would I mind what, son?" Bridger asked, glancing down as he pulled the covers up some more.
"If I called you 'Dad'?" Lucas asked. "You know, for real…"
Bridger smiled. "I'd like that," he told him. "I'd like that a lot."
"You know," Lucas said, hesitantly. "You don't have to do this…adopt me, I mean."
"I know I don't have to, kiddo," he told him, "but I want to. I love you."
Lucas blinked back tears. "I-I love you, too," he said, quietly, "Dad."
Bridger felt tears of his own and had to brush them out of his eyes so he could see.
He leaned down and kissed the top of Lucas' hair.
Under normal circumstances Lucas would have protested such an act of affection, being the cool teenager that he was, but thought this once he could let it slide.
"So," Bridger said, smiling. "Ready to go home…?"
Lucas smiled, knowing that 'home' now meant the SeaQuest.
"Yeah," he said, excitedly. "I can't wait to go swimming with Darwin—in fact, that's the first thing I'm gonna do."
"Uh, Lucas," Bridger said, scratching his chin.
"What?" the boy asked, puzzled.
"Um, you're still grounded," he reminded him. "Remember?"
I know many of you have probably thought I'd dropped off the face of the Earth...but I haven't. I am still writing and even though this is an old story I posted under a different username a few years ago, I decided to post it here as well. Many of my current stories are WIP and I'll post them as I finish them, though I have no idea when that might be. I hope you can all be patient with me. RL, plus writer's block and un-inspiration causes me to go for long periods without posting. I'm sorry about this, but it can't be helped. I'll post things when I can. Please, loyal readers, keep tuning in and enjoying my stories. Jlbrew27