Fixing A Broken Wing - Chapter 1
Disclaimer: Sea Patrol and its characters are property of Channel Nine & McElroys All Media. No infringement was intended by this fanfiction.
Author Notes: This part is set after 4.09 Dutch Courage episode.
"This is unbelievable..."
Kate muttered to herself as she saw the line of cars neatly forming in front of her. The normally smooth Captain Cook Highway apparently decided to have a traffic jam today.
After the whole ordeal of the last patrol, she planned to treat herself to a spa in one of the resorts in Palm Cove area, but now, it looked like her plan might go to the drain. When her car only moved few centimetres during the last 15 minutes, she decided that she was going to give up on the whole spa idea and turned back home. Her eyes then scanned the stretch of highway for the nearest exit when suddenly her body was jolted to the front.
What the hell?
She had to step hard on the brake to avoid hitting the car in front of her. She then pulled up her hand brake and shut down her engine. She opened the door and went to the back of her car to assess the damage. At the same time the guy in a suit came out from the yellow BMW behind her and sent her an apologetic look. Looking at the damage, she just shook her head and sighed. Great, just great!
"I beg your pardon?" Kate was officially fuming. Her car was currently assessed by the repair centre appointed by the insurance company of the other driver. She just found out that apparently they were not willing to repair her car. She looked at the mechanic in front of her and gave him her best XO's stare. The man started to squirm.
"I'm sorry, Ma'am, but the cost of the repair is the same as the value of the car. You would probably better off buying a new one. So instead of reimbursing the repair, the insurance will give you cash compensation."
Kate still stared hard at the man. She couldn't believe that this shore leave turned out to be very unpleasant. Not only she had never made it to the spa, her car was also not road-worthy and now according to this man, she had to buy a new car? Unbelievable!
She looked up to find a pair of blue eyes stared at her concernedly. "Dutchy? What are you doing here?"
"Just arranging service for my motor bike... How about you?" He looked back and forth between her and the mechanic, trying to assess the situation. Even in his shore leave, he couldn't turn off his protectiveness towards her, something that baffled him a lot.
"This man just told me that my car was so old that it would be uneconomical to fix it."
"What happened to it anyway?"
"Some bloke in a suit decided to sneeze in a middle of a traffic jam, causing him to let go of the brake and hit the boot of my car."
He looked at her with raised eyebrows. "Sneezed? Seriously?"
"Yup," she simply replied, too annoyed to elaborate any further.
"X, why don't you let me handle this?" He said carefully.
Her angry eyes were now directed at him.
"X, please? This is the least I could do after the last 2 months."
She looked to his pleading eyes and suddenly felt so tired. The last 2 months had finally taken its toll.
She didn't have to say anything. Her whole body language told him that she had accepted his offer.
He then moved in front of the mechanic and straightened his spine. "Mate, what did you say about the Lady's car?"
"Thanks Dutchy." Kate said as they sat facing each other in one of the outdoor dining table of the local fish and chips shop.
Dylan looked up from his lunch to find her smiling slightly at him. "No worries X."
She then turned her head towards the Esplanade. She couldn't help the sense of melancholy as she observed people enjoying themselves along the Esplanade. Some of them jogged along or walked leisurely on the neatly laid footpath. On the nearby grassed area, women young and old followed their instructor's every move during free Zumba session. Whereas the high-pitch voices of few children indicated their excitement as they played around in the pool. Their life seemed so easy. Unlike hers. She had led a complicated life since childhood and it got even more complicated in the last few years, ever since she walked onto the Hammersley. Now as she and Dutchy had made amends and her professional life turned for the better, her thought came back to her personal life, to the man that had possessed her heart and broke it along the way.
"Don't you like your fish?" Dylan asked curiously as he saw her barely touched her food.
She looked down to her half-eaten barramundi and smiled at him sadly. "I'm just not really hungry."
"You've had enough, have you?" he asked quietly, but she didn't reply.
He always wondered why she could command his attention like no one could. Even though he had been avoiding her like a plague for the last two months, he still couldn't help but pay attention to her; from the way she ran the boarding party to the way she cared for her sailors. The emotions that he saw on her face thus far were mainly anger and annoyance towards him which was understandable given the circumstances. But today was the first time he saw her melancholy expression and he wondered who or what she was thinking about.
He then sighed inwardly. He honestly didn't know what he was doing at the moment. After the Gulf incident, he had promised himself not to care too much about his fellow sailors. If you don't care, then you wouldn't get hurt if something ever happened to them. But here he was, falling to the same trap again. Apparently, his protective instinct ran too deep in his veins.
After a few minutes of silence, he gave up trying to get her to open up to him. He then rose from his seat and pulled his wallet out, ready to go to the counter and pay the bill.
"What do you think you are doing?" Kate raised her eyebrows at him.
"Somebody has to pay the bill." GOD, does she have to question everything?
She shook her head at him, "you've helped me enough today, at least let me pay."
"X, my mother raised me better than that. I was the one who suggested us having lunch together. That means I pay for the meals."
She sighed. What a stubborn man!She could feel a headache coming and raised her hand to massage her temple.
His lips slowly formed into a full-blown smile. He sensed that to be able to convince Kate McGregor of anything was a massive achievement and he couldn't help himself to feel a tiniest amount of pride. But as she continued to massage her temple, his smile quickly disappeared. He then touched her shoulder softly. "Give me a few minutes to sort this out. After that I'll get you home."
She looked up to find his concerned eyes staring at her again. Too tired to argue, she gave him a small smile and nodded her assent.
To be continued...