Sometimes I just get scenes in my head and the rest of the story grows from that. I had this image of Nelson watching Lee as he slept. This is what grew from that image.
Harriman Nelson found Lee’s beachside condo dark. That could mean a number of things, the reason at the top of the list being that Lee was resting quietly. Doc hadn’t cleared Lee for duty yet and having seen him after his latest little ‘errand’ for the Office of Naval Intelligence, Nelson could hardly blame the doctor. Lee swore he was fine, that it was just a scratch and a little bruise.
The ‘scratch’ on Lee’s upper left arm required thirteen stitches to close. The “little bruise” that decorated Lee’s neck and left shoulder was ugly and deep enough to make Nelson wince in sympathy. Despite Lee’s audacious claims about his supposed current condition, Jamie had loaded up one of the many hypodermics in his disposal and proceeded to inject Lee with what he claimed was a broad spectrum antibiotic. He then ordered Lee to go home and go to bed, sending John along to make sure the sneaky skipper did just that.
That had been hours ago and no one, not even Chip, had seen neither hide nor hair of their captain since then. With the sun quickly descending into the horizon, Nelson decided he’d check on the young man long enough to make sure Lee was doing as ordered.
Some time ago Lee had given Nelson and Chip spare keys to the condo and the codes to the alarm system. Nelson used his now, unlocking the back glass door that opened from the huge deck into the kitchen. He checked the alarm to see if it had been armed and found it hadn’t been. Nelson chuckled to himself. Lee must have figured that he’d have company before the evening was out and hadn’t bothered to set the codes. Nelson passed through the kitchen casting a quick glance at the coffee maker on the cabinet. It was quiet and cold. A good sign.
Nelson drifted softly into the living room. The TV was off and the couch was empty. Lee sometimes liked to rest on the couch with the background noise of one of the many news channels playing softly. Deftly running his hand over cushions, Nelson felt they were cold and no one had lain here in a good while. Another good sign.
The admiral turned his focus to the stairs. The bedrooms were on the second floor and if Lee was resting, Nelson hoped he had enough sense to crawl into bed and follow Jamie’s orders for once. It would be a novelty to tell the doctor that yes—Lee was in bed and asleep.
With hardly a sound Nelson ascended the steps, turning at the top of the stairs to head toward Lee’s room. The door was only partly closed and Nelson gently pushed it open.
The room was a study of blue shadows. Dark blue full-length curtains were pulled closed, blocking all the outside light. It was a quirk of Lee’s. He liked sunshine as well as any man, but he always complained that when he was trying to sleep he wanted it dark.
Nelson didn’t dare flip a light on, instead letting his eyes adjust to the blue gloom. The figure in the bed came into focus and Nelson smiled.
Lee was sprawled in the bed, covered by only the light sheet. The rest of the bed covers had been knocked askew, as if Lee had, in some spell of restlessness, kicked them off. One arm was under the pillow, the other arm curled under his chin. The white bandage in his arm covering the stiches stood out in sharp contrast to his olive-tone complexion. His breathing was deep and rhythmic. Lee was truly asleep, leaving Nelson to wonder what else had been in the shot Jamie had given him.
He knew he should probably leave now. If Lee woke and caught someone checking on him, Nelson knew the younger man would be resentful, even if he had been expecting company. He didn’t need or want a babysitter. Nelson knew he’d better not ever mention how many times he’d thought of assigning someone the job of ‘keeping an eye’ on the skipper. Considering Chip’s deep friendship with Lee, it hardly seemed necessary. The only reason Chip wasn’t here now was that he was needed onboard Seaview. Nelson was sure that once he had the chance, the blond would be by to check on Lee himself.
With a quiet sigh, Nelson leaned against the doorframe, watching Lee sleep. What was it about him that prompted the only fatherly feelings Nelson had ever known? Ever since he’d gotten to know the young man during his teaching days at the academy, Nelson knew there was something different about Lee Crane.
Lee’s peaceful sleep seemed to turn troubled as he tossed restlessly. He rolled over onto his back, the sheet slipping down his bare chest. Nelson could only imagine the dream Crane might be having. Reliving some past mission, some past damage control call onboard Seaview, any number of things could have invaded Lee’s dream.
Cautiously Nelson crossed the distance between him and the bed. He gently rested the back of his hand against Lee’s forehead, trying to gauge his temperature. No fever as far as he could tell. Must just be a dream, Nelson thought. He pulled the sheet up over Lee’s bare chest, hoping the young man would settle down without Nelson having to say anything.
Oddly Lee did settle down, rolling back over onto his side, even in his sleep careful of the stitches. He muttered something softly under his breath as he took a deep breath.
Nelson frowned. He hadn’t heard that, had he? A single word had Nelson questioning how Lee saw him. Jiggs had warned him that bringing Lee onboard Seaview was a mistake. Lee didn’t toe the line, he disrespected senior officers. He’d bring nothing but grief and ruin to Nelson. Send him back to the Navy, Jiggs urged.
But Nelson wasn’t about to turn loose of Lee Crane. As the dark-haired young man settled in, he uttered the word again. “Dad? That you?”
Nelson was afraid to breath. Lee’s father had been dead for years, since Lee was fourteen. How had Lee confused him with a man who’d been dead for so many years? Nelson certainly saw Lee as the son he’d never had. He saw something in Lee, a piece of himself, perhaps. How did Lee see him?
“No son. It’s Nelson,” the admiral said softly.
Somehow the words must have registered. “Admiral?” Lee asked again, not opening his eyes. Nelson was sure Lee wasn’t even awake.
“Yes, lad. Go back to sleep, son. Jamie won’t like it if I wake you up.”
Lee sighed again and snuggled into the pillow. He shivered, as if a sudden cold chill had washed over him. Nelson pulled the blankets from the end of the bed, half fallen onto the floor, and pulled them over the young man. Lee relaxed, letting Nelson tuck the warm blankets over him. “Thought you were Dad. You feel like him, sometimes…”
Nelson could only feel pride and honor. He’d heard a few stories about Ambrose Crane, he knew how deeply Lee had missed him when he was killed in a boiler accident. That Lee could think of him in the same way he thought of his father…
Nelson’s thoughts were cut off as Lee snuggled deeper into the pillow and muttered one last thing before he drifted back into deeper sleep. “Hope you don’t mind…”
The admiral was at a loss. Wordlessly he tucked the blankets in around Lee’s frame and backed away. He would tell Jamie, if the doctor asked, that Lee was following orders for once and was resting like he should be. It was definitely time to make an exit before his normally light-sleeping captain woke up and realized he wasn’t dreaming. But before Nelson left he turned back to face Lee, now deeply asleep.
“No, son. I don’t mind at all.”