Pistols At Dawn
Thanks to Linda C for the idea and to Diane for her beta.
Lee padded barefoot into the kitchen, dressed in his favourite black jeans and a white shirt that hung loose. He had been home twenty four hours and knew that he would be getting a visit from his friend and executive officer, Chip Morton. He also knew that said friend would not be happy, but Lee had a plan. Two brightly coloured water cannons lay on the drainer. Lee didn’t know what had attracted him to the store where he’d found them. But when he spotted the water cannons he’d figured that getting a blast of water should divert Chip’s attention from questioning him about his unexpected visit home and Lee knew that Chip’s competitive streak would not allow him to resist retaliating.
the same tactics would not work on Nelson and Jamieson. While he had been on assignment, Lee had
contracted a virulent stomach bug and by the time he had been extracted, he had
been so dehydrated that he had spent a week in the hospital, three days on IV
fluids and another four days being coaxed into taking an interest in solid
food. He’d then spent another week being
bullied by his mother until he was almost back to eating normally; or what was
normal for him. He had no doubts that
Jamieson would have a full report from
Lee filled the cannons he wondered if Chip knew about his latest stay in the
health clinic at
Lee finished and set the cannons back on the drainer. It would give the water time to come to room temperature. He didn’t want to give Chip too much of a shock. A knock at the door signalled the arrival of his friend. Lee looked at his watch – right on time.
Chip Morton braced himself for an argument before knocking at Lee’s door. It had been eight weeks since he had seen Lee, who after finishing an assignment had taken two weeks leave and gone to visit his mother. Lee only usually went home at Christmas and Chip was worried that there may have been something wrong. Especially after a call to Lee’s mother, who had been evasive and seemed in a hurry to get rid of him. Despite her assurances, by the end of the call, Chip had been even more convinced that something WAS wrong. Now Lee had been back twenty four hours and hadn’t called.
The door opened and Lee stood smiling. “Hi Chip, I’ve been expecting you.”
Chip studied his friend for a moment for any outward signs of injury. From the way the shirt hung on him, he’d lost weight. “You didn’t call.”
“No. Sorry, I had some catching up to do,” Lee apologised as he stepped back to allow Chip to enter.
“How is your Mom?”
“She’s fine, thanks.” Lee paused in the hall. “Why don’t we go outside?” he suggested.
“Okay, sure,” This was hard work; Lee was being as evasive as his mother. Chip was certain that Lee was hiding something, but getting him to open up was not going to be easy. “I tried to call.”
“Really?” Lee answered with a dismissive shrug as he led the way to the back of the house.
The patio at the back of the house had a Spanish influence; at the centre was a small circular pool. Two recliners stood either side of a small bistro table. The patio was bordered on one side by shrubs and tall, native palm trees.
“Have a seat, I’ll get us something to drink,” Lee said before disappearing round the side of the house again.
Chip dropped onto one of the recliners, it was certainly peaceful here, with only the sound of the ocean and the birds. He was a little surprised to find this oasis of calm and wondered when the work had been done. He didn’t see Lee being interested in garden design; he was never home long enough for one thing. Chip’s peace was short lived as it was suddenly shattered by a shower of cold water. “Hey, what the...!!” Chip spluttered as the spray of water wet his face and dripped onto his T shirt.
“Gotcha,” Lee grinned, holding the water cannon aimed at Chip.
“You wait, Lee Crane,” Chip scrambled to his feet to give chase.
“Here, catch,” Lee tossed him the other cannon and took off towards the beach with Chip in persuit.
Nelson closed the file containing a medical report on Seaview’s Captain and regarded the man standing in front of his desk. “Are you sure about this, Will?”
“Too damn right I am, Admiral. I want to see Lee Crane now, before he has a chance to come up with a way of avoiding me,” Seaview’s CMO replied.
“He can hardly do that, he knows that you have to certify him fit,” Nelson pointed out.
“Oh, I wouldn’t under-estimate our Captain. There are ways and means.”
Nelson reached for the phone. “All right, I’ll call and make sure that he’s home.” In truth, Nelson was as anxious to see Crane as the doctor was. He knew that Lee had been back for twenty four hours, but he had wanted to give Lee time.
“No need, I happen to know that Chip is paying Lee a visit this morning and I would rather not give Lee any warning.”
does Chip know about the medical report?”
Nelson enquired sceptically as he pushed to his feet and walked around
the desk. “Or am I going to have two
angry officers?” When Chip found out
that Lee had spent time in hospital in
Jamieson shook his head. “You know the rules about patient confidentiality.”
“But you had no problem telling me.”
“That’s different, you’re Lee’s CO and the closest thing to a father that he has,” Jamieson followed Nelson as he headed towards the door.
Nelson smiled. It was true that he and Lee were as close as father and son. “I’m not sure that the law would agree with you.” Nelson paused to collect his jacket and cap from the stand by the door.
“They’re probably down on the beach,” Nelson commented after getting no response from his knock. The sea was in Lee’s blood and after being away, it would be impossible for him to resist its pull.
“If that idiot is has gone for a run, so help me...”Jamieson grumbled.
“Calm down, Will, they are probably sitting on the beach,” Nelson told him as he led the way around the back. The converted lighthouse stood on a grass covered plateau and Nelson was surprised to find the patio at the back of the house. However, there was no sign of his officers.
“I knew that he’d find a way of avoiding me,” Jamieson muttered from behind Nelson.
Nelson chuckled. “Will, you’re being paranoid.”
“Is that surprising with Lee Crane as a patient?” the doctor retaliated.
Nelson looked around for a moment before heading in the direction of the beach. “Come on Will, you know it’s not personal. Lee trusts you. If he didn’t, you wouldn’t be Seaview’s CMO.”
The slope that led down to the beach was quite steep and the fine sand loose underfoot, Nelson made his way carefully down. At the bottom he paused to take in the view of the rugged coastline. The semi-circular beach had been carved from the rocks and several lay scattered on the beach. There were footprints in the sand that led in the direction of a rock outcrop at the other end of the beach. “Looks like they came this way,” Nelson indicated the footprints.
“Hopefully Morton is keeping an eye on him.” The doctor said optimistically.
Nelson hoped so too. He was beginning to wish that he had thought to remove his shoes before hand; they were filling with sand as his feet sank into the sand with each step. The bright sunshine reflected off the sea and he raised a hand to shield his eyes as he searched for any sign of his two friends.
“When I suggested a house call, this wasn’t what I had in mind,” Jamieson complained, following after Nelson.
Nelson smiled to himself, with Lee and Chip you never knew what to expect; especially when they were away from the boat. Since Lee had taken command of Seaview, Nelson had seen another side of her stoic Executive officer. “You have to admit, it’s a fantastic view.”
“Yeah, I can see why Lee chose this place.”
Nelson attention was taken by the appearance of two familiar figures near the outcrop.
Lee dodged around the rocks, ducking for cover as he caught sight of Chip’s blond head. He couldn’t remember the last time that he’d had this much fun. It wasn’t exactly conduct becoming an officer, but it felt good to relax and indulge in some frivolous fun. They were both rather wet and Lee’s longer than usual hair was tussled and curling from both the hits Chip had managed to score, and the spray from the waves breaking over the rocks. Stealthily he circled around to get behind Chip. Resting his arm against the rock, Lee fired, catching Chip between the shoulder blades with a blast of water. He heard Chip gasp at the shock of the cold water hitting his back. Lee ducked as Chip raised his own weapon to return fire, his foot slipped on the wet rock and before he had time to recover, he was falling, tumbling over the rocks and landed with a splash in the shallow water.
“Lee, are you okay?” Chip called.
Lee lay on his back with waves gently breaking around him. Cautiously he pushed up on his elbows as Chip appeared from behind the rocks.
“Are you okay?” he asked with a look of concern.
“I think so.” He would probably have few bruises, but nothing was broken he concluded. Accepting Chip’s hand, he pushed to his feet.
Chip bent to retrieve the water cannon Lee had dropped. “Are you sure you’re all right?” he eyed Lee suspiciously.
Lee smiled. “Yes, Chip – I’m fine, really.” The smile quickly faded as he caught sight of the two men coming towards them. “Don’t look now, but we have company.”
Nelson smiled in amusement as he watched Lee squirm under Jamieson’s critical gaze.
Jamieson shook his head. “What were you trying to do, break your neck? As if I don’t spend enough time patching you up,” the doctor grumbled.
“We were having fun!” A bedraggled Lee insisted.
“Don’t give me that look,” Jamieson continued, unmoved by the expression on Lee’s face. “Are you hurt?”
Lee shook his head. “No, Jamie, I’m fine.”
Jamieson glared at Chip and then turned back to Lee. “You two ought to be classified as juvenile delinquents!”
“Hey, what did I do?” Chip protested defensively.
“I don’t know why you are making such a big deal, we’re both okay,” Lee glared belligerently at the doctor.
Nelson cleared his throat. “Maybe we should go back to the house so you can change out of those wet clothes.” He intervened before it could turn into a full scale shouting match. Lee’s clothes were soaked. He hardly resembled a commissioned officer, even if he was a reservist.
Chip quickly removed his wet T shirt as they started walking.
Lee gave Nelson a sheepish smile. “Did you want something as well, Admiral?”
“No, I only dropped in to see how you were.” Harry watched the expression on Lee’s face change as he realised that Nelson knew about the hospital.
“Well as you can see, Admiral – I’m fine,” Lee replied cheerfully.
“Ummm, so I see.” Nelson could tell from the wet shirt that clung to Lee’s torso that he had lost weight. However, Lee appeared to be in good spirits and he didn’t want anything to spoil that. Catching the doctor’s attention, he gave a small negative shake of his head.
Once inside Lee almost ran up the stairs, using the excuse that he needed to shower and change. Damn it! Did Jamieson think he was stupid? Did he think that Lee didn’t know why he was here?
Stripping off his wet clothes, he stepped into the shower. He stayed there longer than necessary, letting the warm spray ease the tension from his body until he felt calmer. He didn’t want to argue with Jamieson in front of Chip; he was sure the XO had picked up on the fact that the doctor’s visit wasn’t purely a social call. Jamie wasn’t in the habit of ‘stopping by,’ unless it was a professional visit.
He knew that Jamie was only looking out for his health, but it galled him that Jamieson had felt it necessary to intrude now instead of waiting for him to report. Realising that he was letting himself get worked up again, Lee took a calming breath and turned off the shower. He’d have a few words to say to the doctor when they were alone.
Grabbing a towel, he quickly dried himself, grimacing as he found his right knee was bruised; another reason for Jamie to lecture him. He’d better get dressed before some-one came in to check that he hadn’t slipped in the shower and knocked himself out.
Dressed in dry clothes, Lee plastered a smile on his face and carried a tray of coffee and cookies out to his friends waiting for him on the patio.
“Hey, we were beginning to think you’d got lost,” Chip eyed the cookies. “Are these from your Mom?”
Lee grinned. “Yeah, she still thinks I’m wasting away.” His mother had tried to send him back loaded with food, but he had managed to persuade her that he couldn’t carry it all.
“I didn’t know that you were into gardening Lee,” Nelson said as Lee handed him a mug.
“I’m not Admiral; this is all my Mom’s doing. She said it was too bleak and needed something to make it feel more like a home.”
“It works. You could almost forget this is a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere.” Jamieson remarked.
“It’s not the middle of nowhere,” Lee objected. He knew that they all worried about his security, but he loved his new home and wasn’t about to give it up for one of the beach houses inside the institute grounds.
“I suppose we will have to get used to the idea of you being out here alone,” Nelson sounded doubtful.
Lee nodded and turned away, picking up his own coffee. His closeness to Nelson sometimes made it difficult for him to go against the man’s wishes. However, Lee was fiercely independent and his private life was … private. He would not stand for anyone interfering with that, even if their intensions were well meant.
“I was going to suggest that we go somewhere for lunch,” Jamieson cast a critical eye over the young men. “But I’m not sure they’d let you two in,” he teased.
“I’m off duty. I am not going to put on a uniform,” Lee said emphatically.
Nelson chuckled. “I’m sure we could find somewhere suitable.”
“Good morning Commander. Here for your check-up?” Nurse Alice Goodwin greeted Crane cheerfully.
“Morning Alice,” Lee smiled and followed her into the exam room.
“You know the routine. While you get ready, I’ll tell Doctor Jamieson that you are here.” She turned and hurried out.
Lee looked at the exam table with distaste and sighed in resignation. His exam was a necessary evil. Captaining Seaview made it worth enduring being poked and prodded and having his arms punctured by sharp needles. He pulled himself up onto the exam table and started to unbutton his shirt in preparation for Jamie’s arrival.
He didn’t have to wait long before Jamieson entered with Lee’s file and a determined expression on his face that told Lee he needed to tread carefully.
“Morning, Jamie.” He smiled.
Jamieson regarded him critically for a moment before speaking. “Good morning Captain. How are you this morning?”
Jamieson placed the file down on the exam table. “Any residual symptoms from the stomach bug?”
Lee shook his head. “No, I feel fine now.”
“All right, I am going to give you a complete physical. If I do find that you are hiding anything, I will report it to the Admiral and you will be placed on medical leave until I say otherwise. Are we clear?”
“Did you get out of the wrong side of the bed this morning?” Lee asked lightly.
“I will not stand by and see you permanently injured or killed because of your cavalier attitude toward medical treatment,” Jamie reproved sternly.
“I do not have an attitude,” Lee objected. “It’s just...” Crane cut himself off as he realised what he was about to divulge.
“It’s just what?” Jamieson looked at him speculatively.
“Nothing.” Lee muttered, shifting uncomfortably on the table.
Jamieson sighed. “Lee, I can’t help you if you won’t talk to me.”
“There’s nothing to talk about. I told you I’m fine.” Lee insisted, closing the subject.
“Well, I didn’t find anything physically wrong with you,” Jamieson conceded. “But I am not going to certify you fit until I get the blood work back. In the meantime, I want you to gain back the weight you’ve lost.”
“Okay, Jamie, I’ll try.” Lee looked up from buttoning his shirt and slipped down off the table.
“You need to relax more.” Jamieson finished writing a note in the file and closed it. “I want to see an improvement before we sail again.”
“That’s what I was doing yesterday, until a certain doctor happened by,” Lee complained. “There’s no pleasing you. Whatever I do is wrong.”
Jamieson smiled. “You can walk on the beach, relax in the garden or use the therapy pool here. I want you to be careful, don’t do anything dangerous.”
“You’re no fun,” Lee complained.
“Lee, I’m not trying to stop your fun. I’m trying to prevent you from ending up back here or in sick bay,” Jamieson lectured, although he knew he was wasting his breath; Lee Crane would never change. “Now get out of here, I’ll see you again in ten days.”
Lee grinned. “Thanks, Jamie.
“Stay out of trouble.” Jamieson re-iterated to the departing Captain. He wasn’t sure which was worst. Having Crane at the institute working all hours and forgetting to eat when he was engrossed in something, or having him at home and not knowing what the wilful young man might be up to. Jamieson shook his head, he couldn’t win either way.
Will Jamieson took a sip of his coffee before turning his attention to the lab results on Lee Crane’s blood work. The results were good, with no sign of bacterial or viral infection. Liver and kidney function were fine and blood count was normal.
Smiling to himself, he placed the results in Crane’s file and closed the folder. He knew that the workaholic Captain was anxious to return to duty and he had no medical reason not to allow Lee to do so, provided that he followed orders to eat regular meals and worked sensible hours. Apart from the weight loss, Lee was in good shape and there would be nothing to gain in making Lee wait the ten days that Jamieson had origionaly specified.
Reaching for the phone, he quickly tapped in Lee’s home number. It made a change to be the barer of good news. This would be one occasion that Lee wouldn’t mind visiting Med Bay. Jamieson had often puzzled over why the young Captain hated everything medical. There was nothing in his record to account for it. Lee Crane had been a health child with few illnesses or injuries. Making up for it now, aren’t you? Jamieson thought with amusement.
He couldn’t help wondering what Crane had been upto since he’d seen him last, he had not put in an appearance at the institute as Jamieson had half expected him to do. That in itself worried him, Crane was stubbord and did not take kindly to being separated from his command. Trying to get the man to take a vacation was close to impossible and Jamieson could only remember a handful of occasions when Lee had actually taken a proper break. While Jamieson had great respect for his Captain, sometimes his stubbornness drove the doctor crazy.
At least with Crane here at the institute, Jamieson could enlist the help of Chip Morton and Lee’s secretary to keep on eye on him; making sure that he ate and left the office at a reasonable time. Lee wouldn’t be happy about it, he hated being fussed over, but he wouldn’t have a choice. Jamiueson smiled as he heard Crane’s voice at the other end of the phone. “Commander, could you stop by Med Bay? I have your results,” he said cheerfully.
This was Lee’s first day back and he was trying to wade through the mountain of paperwork waiting for him on his desk. He looked up from the paperwork at the familiar knock on his office door. “Come on in, Chip,” he called in response. He’d been expecting a visit, knowing that his friend would be keeping an eye on him.
“How did it go with Jamie?” Chip asked cheerfully as he entered the office and approached Lee’s desk.
“Fine,” Lee smiled. Chip was fishing. Lee hadn’t seen Chip in the intervening days since his friend’s visit to the lighthouse, he should have known that Chip would not give up so easily on the subject of his last mission and subsequent leave.
Chip folded into the chair in front of the desk. “And?”
“And what?” Lee answered innocently.
“Come on, Lee – give. What happened on that mission? And don’t give me any crap about it being classified, you know what I’m talking about?”
“I don’t know what your talking about.” Lee lowered his gaze, knowing that Chip could read him all too easily. “Nothing happened. The mission was a success.”
“That isn’t what I asked. Why did Doc feel it necessary to make a house call, instead of waiting for you to report?” Chip crossed his arms in a gesture of determination.
Lee sighed. Chip could be like a dog with a bone sometimes when he thought Lee was holding out on him. “Drop it, Chip, I’m fine.”
“Okay, Mister, ‘I’m fine.’ Prove it,” Chip challenged.
Lee glared at him across the desk. “I don’t have time for this, Chip. I have piles of work to catch up on,” he gestured to the files and papers covering his desk.
“You can take an hour out for some lunch,” Chip reached across and grabbed the pen out of Lee’s hand.
Lee stifled his annoyance at his friend’s fussing. He was beginning to suspect that a certain doctor had put him up to this. “Are you buying?”
“Sure. What’s it to be?” Chip grinned.
Lee thought for a moment, he usually only had a sandwich for lunch and that was usually on the run, or at his desk. Much to the consternation of his secretary, friends and a certain CMO who were always nagging him about taking the time to eat a decent meal. “How about a triple decker beef club with Caesar salad and a chocolate walnut bar to follow?”
Chip blinked. “Huh...are you sure you’re okay?” he joked as he pushed up out of the chair.
Pushing back his own chair, Lee shrugged. “Jamie is always nagging me to put on some weight.” If he ate now, he wouldn’t have to worry about having much later. Not that he was about to admit that to Chip.
“Okay. You’re on. Shall we go to Al Fresco?” Chip suggested the nearby bar/restaurant.
“Fine with me,” Lee followed Chip out of the office and pulled the door closed behind him. “Donna, I’m going to lunch,” he told his secretary on the way out.
“Yes, sir.” Unseen by Lee, she winked and smiled at Chip.