Somewhere In The Night
I know that other people have written great stories around The Phantom episodes, and I won’t pretend to even try and match their skills. This is a sort of WHN to the un-aired version, where Nelson shoots Lee in his cabin. I have had this story on the back burner for a while, but did not have a plot until now. As always thank you to Diane for her beta and to Cris for her advice.
Rachel Burrows sat behind the reception desk of the Maple Inn hotel. The historic Victorian style, three storey clapboard mansion had been sympathetically restored, with an extension added to one side, and had been in her family for three generations. The hotel sat in 3 acres of landscaped woodland on a corner plot which fronted the ocean.
Tomorrow the hotel was the venue for a wedding reception, and most of the rooms were occupied by wedding guests. Lucy Matlock had been Rachel’s best friend since she was small; they had gone to school and college together. Lucy was marrying Nick Adams, an ex marine. The only man Rachel had ever been interested in, Lee Crane, had made it clear that he was not interested. She had made a complete fool of herself the last time they had met. Her crush on him had turned into obsession. All she had wanted was for him to love her the same way she loved him. But instead, she had ended up hurting him. After the way she had behaved, he would probably never want to speak to her again.
She could hear the bar tender clearing away in the bar. The last of the guests had retired for the night, and soon the night porter would be taking over from her. It had been a busy day and she was looking forward to going to bed. Tomorrow would be even busier, with Rachel being a bridesmaid. She was glad that Lucy had a wedding planner looking after the arrangements for the reception, although the hotel would be doing the catering.
The rush was set to continue into next month with guests booked for the fall foliage and then in October, the Halloween festivities the town was planning; her parents had their own plans for the hotel. Rachel had already ordered their supply of pumpkins, both for eating and for decoration. She would probably end up carving the pumpkin lanterns, and then had her own costume to find.
She sighed and rubbed her eyes as she looked towards the door in anticipation of the arrival of the night porter. They were expecting a late arrival, one of the guests who because of work had not been able to get away. The booking was in the name of Lee Gerard, but Rachel could not recall anyone by that name from their school days. Lucy had told her that she would know him when she saw him. Anyway, there was someone on duty all night should any of the guests require anything, or there was an emergency. Her musing was interrupted by the barman bring her the keys.
“Good night, Rachel,” he smiled, handing her the keys to the bar.
“Good night, Don,” Accepting the keys she hung them on the hook under the reception desk; only members of staff knew that they were kept there, and there was no money in the bar till at night. Leaving the reception desk, she did a last check of the foyer, making sure that all the tables had been cleared and that the area was tidy. She was hoping for a glimpse of the mysterious guest; she was intrigued to know who he was.
Picking up a discarded newspaper, Rachel made her way back to the desk as a waft of cool night air announced the arrival of Bill Henderson, the night porter. “Evening, Bill,” she smiled.
“Evening, Rachel,” he made his way to the desk, and unpacked the flask of coffee he always brought with him.
“We are expecting a late guest, his name is Lee Gerard. I don’t know what time he will get here. He is one of the wedding guests.” She informed him, handing him the newspaper. “He’s in room 50.”
“Okay, I’ll take care of him. Goodnight, Rachel.”
“Goodnight, Bill,” Rachel headed for her room on the private third floor. She had a busy day ahead of her tomorrow.
Crane was exhausted, both mentally and physically as he sat in the back of a
cab on his way to the Maple Inn. He
hadn’t been sure that he was going to make it back in time for the
wedding. He’d spent the entire return
voyage in sickbay, and didn’t remember much about it. He’d lost a lot of blood, and combined with
the shock had meant that it had been a close call. Even after they had at last made it back to
port, he had not been able to escape from Seaview’s C.M.O. He was still recovering from not only the
wound itself, but from the fact that Nelson had shot him. He’d been in Nelson’s cabin; Nelson had stood
there with that look on his face, a gun pointed at him. Lee had yelled at him, demanding that Nelson
tell him what had happened, Lee still
couldn’t believed that he had pulled the trigger. He gave himself a mental shake as the cab
pulled away, leaving him standing outside the entrance to the Maple Inn. Jamieson had only released him for the weekend
to attend the wedding. Chip was picking
him up in FS 1 first thing Monday to fly him back to the
Entering the hotel lobby, Lee was relieved to find that Rachel was not on the desk. “I have a reservation,” he told the man behind the desk as he dropped his duffel on the floor.
“Evening, Sir – you must be Lee Gerard, we have been expecting you,” the man smiled. “You’re in room 50. If you’ll just register, I’ll show you the way.”
Lee nodded, accepting the card; he filled in the details, and signed the register. He had asked Lucy to book his room under an alias so that Rachel would not know that he was coming. With everything else, he couldn’t cope with her chasing after him.
“Thank you,” the man took the key card from the pigeon hole behind the desk. “If you’ll just follow me. You’re room is in the new extension at the end.”
Lee winced as he bent to picked up the duffel and followed the man. His only other luggage was the garment bag with his dress blues for the wedding tomorrow.
Rachel sipped her champagne and let her gaze wonder around the room. She couldn’t help feeling a twinge of envy as she watched the bride and groom dancing. Lucy looked beautiful in her flowing white gown and a diamante tiara in her hair, and with Nick in a tux, they made a lovely couple. Rachel had resigned herself to staying single; there would be no white wedding for her. She really didn’t like weddings. It was no fun when you didn’t have a partner to dance with. As soon as Lucy and Nick left for their honeymoon, she would change out of her bridesmaid dress and take over at the reception desk to let her mother enjoy herself for a change. When you owned and ran a business like The Maple Inn, there was not a lot of time for a social life. After the disastrous charity auction when she had won the weekend with Lee Crane, she had come home and buried herself in work. She had been so embarrassed and ashamed and she wondered if Lee had figured out what she had done. Neither had she seen Lee’s mother since, she could not face her.
She had enjoyed being a bridesmaid, and the pink satin dress was lovely, but... Stop feeling sorry for yourself, she told herself firmly.
The champagne glass almost slipped from her hand as, across the room, she caught site of a tall, dark haired man, walking towards the French doors that led to the garden. Lee? She shook her head, it couldn’t be; she was imagining things. It must be one of Nick’s friends; he must be the mystery late guest, but it was strange that she had not noticed him before. Then she had been busy playing chief bridesmaid, and he could have been seated at another table during the meal. Her curiosity aroused, she made her way through the crowded room to follow him. She had lost sight of him. He must have gone outside, probably needed some fresh air. Maybe like her, he was not a party person.
Lee stumbled to the door, feeling suddenly light headed and nauseous. Outside, he lent against the wall and wiped a hand across his face then tugged at his tie. The memory of what had happened returned and he shivered.
“Lee? It is you.”
Lee turned to see Rachel approaching; he’d been trying to avoid her all day.
“Hey, are you okay?” she asked, looking concerned.
“Yes, I’m fine,” he told her, trying to lever himself away from the support of the wall.
“You don’t look it. Here, come and sit down for a minute,” she took his arm and led him to a seat in the garden.
“I’ll be all right in a minute,” he insisted as he gratefully almost collapsed into the seat. Leaning forwards, he dropped his head into his hands. He felt like he was going to pass out. He closed his eyes, and concentrated on breathing; telling himself that he was not going to embarrass himself by throwing up. He felt Rachel’s hand on his arm, but for the moment he couldn’t respond to her concern; it took all his attention to stay upright. Maybe if he sat here for a few minutes, the fresh air would help clear his head and he could make it to his room.
After a few minutes, he straightened and turned to Rachel. “We should be getting back.” Although it was the last thing he wanted, neither did he want to deal with Rachel right now.
“I don’t think you’re up to it, Lee,” She observed. “I think you need a doctor.”
Lee shook his head. “I don’t need a doctor. It’s probably something I ate, I’ll be fine,” he insisted. Hell, he had only just got away from Jamieson and didn’t need another doctor fussing over him.
“I hope not, I should hate to think that we had poisoned you.” She smiled. “Maybe you should lie down.”
“Yes, maybe you’re right. I think I’ll turn in,” he managed to get to his feet, but the nausea welled up again, he swallowed hard and looked around. “Is there another way in?” He didn’t want to have to go back to the reception.
“Yes, come on – I’ll walk with you. We don’t want you passing out somewhere on the way.”
He didn’t argue when she took his arm and lead him back towards the hotel. He felt too sick to worry about what had gone on between them in the past, He just wanted to get to his room and collapse into bed. Hopefully after a few hours sleep, he would feel better.
Rachel led him down the hall to the elevator, and once inside, he lent against the interior of the car, grateful that the new extension had an elevator, he couldn’t have managed the stairs. He couldn’t stop shaking, but he wasn’t cold; what was wrong with him? He was aware of Rachel’s concerned scrutiny. “Thanks, I don’t think I would have made it,” he told her with a tight smile.
“It’s the least I could do,” a smile briefly replaced her concerned expression. “You’re shaking, are you cold?”
Lee shook his head. “I don’t know what’s wrong, I can’t stop shaking.” Just then the elevator stopped and the doors opened.
Rachel slipped an arm around his waist as he pushed away from the side and took a step towards the door. “Can you manage?”
Lee nodded, digging into his pocket for the key as they approached the room.
Sitting on the bed, he felt a little better, but he couldn’t stop shaking.
“Let me help you,” Rachel knelt and pulled off his shoes, then helped him off with his jacket. “Lie down,” she encouraged, gently pushing him back. “Doc O’Malley was at the reception. I’ll ring down and ask him to come up,” she reached for the phone.
Lee reached out to stop her. “No, I just need to lie down for a while. I’ll be fine,” he protested. He didn’t want to be poked and prodded; he wanted to be left in peace.
“Please, Lee. You’re sick, – you need a doctor,” she insisted, gently pulling her hand free.
Lee eased himself back against the pillows. Maybe she was right, Jamie would not be happy if he was sick and didn’t do anything about it. He decided that seeing O’Malley was better than facing Jamieson. He closed his eyes, trying to relax, but his stomach churned and he was forced to make a dash to the bathroom.
Someone entered the room while he was in the bathroom, and he returned to find a man he presumed to be the doctor. The distinguished looking man looked to be in his fifties, his dark hair grey at the temples. Feeling somewhat uncomfortable with the thought of a strange doctor, Lee dragged himself back to the bed, feeling weak. Retching had really hurt and he was afraid that he was going to bust his stitches, now all he wanted was to crash.
“I’m Doctor O’Malley,” he introduced himself as he followed Lee to the bed. What have you been doing to yourself?” he asked, smiling.
“I have to go change,” Rachel interrupted as she pulled open the door.
The doctor nodded an acknowledgement. “Don’t worry Rachel, I’ll take good care of him,” he assured her before turning his full attention to Lee. “Now, what’s the problem?”
Lee eased himself down onto the bed. “It’s nothing really, Doc, I just felt a little queasy, and I can’t seem to stop shaking.”
“Are you taking any medication?” the doctor asked as he set his medical bag down on the side table and opened it.
“Yes,” Lee admitted reluctantly, pulling the pills Jamieson had given him from his jacket pocket, he gave them to the doctor.
The doctor read the label, and then looked back at him. “What condition are you taking these for?”
“I had an accident; I just got out of the hospital yesterday.” Lee could tell that he wasn’t going to get anything past this doctor. He just hoped that the doc would not feel it necessary to ring Jamieson. He had already had a lecture from Jamie prior to him allowing Lee to attend the wedding.
“I think I’d better have a proper look at you. Take off your shirt and lie down,” the doctor instructed, once more going to his medical bag he pulled out a pair for surgical gloves.
Rachel knocked before using her pass key to open the door. “Can I come in?”
“Yes, Rachel, come in,” the doctor answered.
Lee was sitting up, just pulling on his shirt, while the doctor was packing his medical bag.
Entering the room, she walked towards the bed. “So, what’s the verdict, Doc?”
“He’ll live,” the doctor declared. “But if he was my patient, he would still be in the hospital.”
Rachel frowned, looking from the doctor to Lee and back again. “Why?”
The doctor exchanged looked with Lee before answering. “I’ll let him tell you that. I’ve given him something for the nausea, and for the pain. He’ll be fine in the morning, but if he’s not, give me a call.”
“Thanks, Doctor,” Rachel said absently, her attention focus on her handsome captain. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she was almost afraid to ask what was wrong. “Lee?” He was still the most attractive man she had ever seen, with his dark curly hair and those expressive honey gold eyes. Now here she was, sitting on the edge of the bed where he was lying; her feelings for him hadn’t changed. She had never been interested in anyone else, but she knew that she must keep a tight rein on her emotions.
He reached out and squeezed her hand. “Don’t worry, Rachel, I’m okay, really,” he smiled reassuringly.
Rachel smiled, forcing down the sudden feelings his touch evoked. “Why don’t I make you a cup of mint tea? It will help settle your stomach.”
“Just mint tea, nothing else I promise.” Getting up, she headed for the door. “Be back in a minute.” She glanced over her shoulder, he really didn’t look well. After she had made the tea, she would leave and let him get some sleep. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.
“Here,” She placed the cup on the night stand and backed off a few steps to give him some space. “Best to let it brew for a few minutes,” she advised.
“Thanks, I’m sorry I dragged you away from the reception.”
Rachel shrugged. “That’s okay; I was about ready to leave anyway.” She didn’t add that she wasn’t having much fun on her own. “Well, I’d better go and let you get some sleep. If you need anything, just ring reception.” Turning, she headed for the door. “Good night.”
“Good Night, Rachel.”
Lee stared at the closed door and frowned. He couldn’t figure out how he felt about Rachel, she was very attractive, and she had looked good in that strapless bridesmaid dress. He enjoyed her company, but after the way she had come onto him the last time they had been together, things had almost gotten out of hand. He didn’t want to encourage her and he certainly wasn’t looking for a serious relationship. His mother would definitely like to see them get together. She had been indirectly responsible for their last encounter he recalled; it was just as well that she was not at the reception or she would be playing match maker for sure.
Turning his attention to the cup she had left beside the bed, he took a cautious sip; it wasn’t bad. He smiled to himself as the thought of Chip Morton, and what he would say if he could see him now, drinking herbal tea. Usually he survived on coffee, and wouldn’t consider anything else, except a beer maybe. That took his mind back to Jamie, his CMO; at least the tea tasted better than some of the potions the doctor prescribed. For all his complaining, Lee was grateful for everything that Jamieson had done for him since he had become Captain of the Seaview. Not least for his latest efforts in patching him up. He was starting to shake again, and he realised that his problems may not be physical, but mental. The after effects of his ordeal were only now beginning to surface. But why now? What had triggered this?
Lee knew that Nelson had hardly left his bedside while he had been in Sickbay. They had not had much chance to talk, but he knew that neither Nelson nor Chip had been happy about this weekend. He still had the stitches, which were due to come out on Monday. He took another sip of the tea, hoping that it would help settle his stomach. After sickbay food, his stomach had rebelled against the rich food served at the reception, and he probably should not have had all three courses. He was a light eater at the best of times.
Lee was enjoying the view of the ocean from a table near the window of the breakfast room. He was feeling better after a fairly good night, and rather than have breakfast in his room, had decided to chance the restaurant. It was quiet at this time, with most of the wedding guests still asleep after the late finish of the reception the previous night. Fortunately, his room had been far enough away for the noise not to disturb him. Looking up from his bowl of cereal, he saw Rachel walking towards the table with a pot of coffee.
“Good morning, how are you feeling?” she asked, smiling.
“I’m fine, thank you.” He wondered what she had in mind. Was she just doing her job? Or did she have some other motive.
Lee nodded. “Thanks.”
Rachel poured the coffee. “Can we talk?”
Lee gestured to the seat opposite and she sat down. He waited while she poured herself a cup of coffee and spooned sugar into the cup; finally she looked up from the cup.
“I thought I would never see you again. After the way I behaved last time we met...” her voice trailed off, and she lowered her gaze. “I am so sorry; you must think I’m some kind of wacko.”
Lee felt awkward, unsure what to do or say. He was having a hard time trying to sort out his own feeling. Maybe they did need to talk, to straighten things out. He reached across the table and touched her hand. “Rachel?”
“Sorry,” she smiled sheepishly. “I should go and let you finish your breakfast in peace.”
“Why don’t we take a walk along the cliffs later, if you’re free? I need my fix; I get edgy if I’m away from the sea for too long.” He smiled jokingly. He didn’t quite understand why, but he felt the need for company.
“I’d love to.”
Lee carefully drew in a deep breath of salt-laden air; he was beginning to relax as they walked along the sand. He realised that he wanted to stay here for a while. As much as he wanted to return to Seaview, he couldn’t face Nelson yet. He needed some time to himself while he struggled to deal with the consequences of the shooting. Here, where no-one knew who he was, or what had happened; he could relax and be anonymous. He glanced at Rachel and smiled, not sure how to broach the subject, or even if he should find another hotel.
“Come on, there’s something I want to show you,” she grinned, taking hold of his hand.
The small clapboard beach bungalow was just yards from the high tide line. “This belongs to your family?” Lee asked.
“Yes, I used to spend the holidays down here, I love it,” Rachel beamed enthusiastically as she unlocked the door and led him inside.
stood, taking in his surroundings. The
inside was simply decorated in traditional
“When I can, but I don’t get a lot of time off these days.”
“Is it for rent?” This would be the perfect place to stay, away from the main house, and right on the beach.
“Why, are you thinking about staying?”
just for a week or two,” Lee took a step closer. Rachel, I can’t tell you what
happened, but I need some time before I return to
“Oh, Lee – of course you can stay, for as long as you need.”
“What do you mean, you’re not coming back? I don’t understand Lee. What about your stitches? Their due out tomorrow,” Chip asked.
“They have doctors here, Chip. It’s not a problem.”
“Yeah, but Jamie will have a fit when he finds out,” Chip wished that he was having this conversation face to face, instead of over the phone. He could always tell what Lee was thinking.
“He can rant all he wants, he’s not my C.O. Besides, he said a minimum of six weeks, so why shouldn’t I spend them here?”
“Or is it that you want to spend some time with Rachel?” Chip teased, in an effort to defuse the annoyance he could hear in Lee voice, and that last remark about Jamieson not being his C.O. was not like Lee.
“What if I do?”
“Okay, buddy, calm down. If that’s what you want I’d be the last person to try and stop you,” Chip was becoming more concern about what was going on with Lee. Sure it was no big deal; it wouldn’t be the first time that Lee had gone against Jamie’s orders.
“Sorry, Chip. Tell Jamie not to worry, I promise I’ll see a doctor here.”
“And what am I supposed to tell the Admiral?
“Tell him I’ll be back in six weeks for a physical.”
Chip took a deep breath. “Thanks.”
“Don’t worry, Chip. He won’t blame you.”
“Are you sure about this Lee? Where can I contact you?”
“You can contact me through Rachel’s family.”
“Oh that’s just great, Lee. Nelson’s going to love that.”
“I’m sidelined anyway; if something comes up I’m sure you can handle it.”
So that’s what this was about, Lee was annoyed that Jamie would not let him return to duty for six weeks, possibly longer. “Lee, you know that it is going to take time for your body to heal. Hell you nearly died. You can’t expect to bounce back after something like that.”
“Don’t try to analyse me, Chip. Just tell Nelson and Jamie that I’m okay.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, Chip, I’m fine.”
“All right, but don’t be surprised if they send me down there to drag you back.”
“Thanks, Chip. Bye.”
Lee, take care.” Chip hung up the phone
and sighed, he was not looking forward to telling Jamieson that his patient was
disobeying his orders. Lee was supposed
to be in
Dr Will Jamieson was not happy. “What do you mean, he’s not coming back?” he glowered at the tall blond standing in front of his desk.
“He said that he wanted to stay on for a while.”
I haven’t released him. He’s not fully
recovered, he should still be in
“He said that he would see a doctor there.” Chip offered.
“Huh, he’ll tell them he’s fine, even if he isn’t.” Jamieson stopped. Lee Crane had done some stupid things, but this... “What else did he say?”
“Just that he wanted to spend some time with Rachel.”
“After what she did? I find that hard to believe. There has to be more to this.”
“I know that Lee wasn’t exactly enthusiastic at seeing Rachel the last time, but maybe he’s changed his mind. They have known each other a long time,” Chip reasoned.
“We’ll see what the Admiral has to say about this.” He headed for the door and wrenched it open. “Are you coming?”
Chip shrugged and followed him out.
Nelson frowned as Will Jamieson entered his office in answer to his ‘Come’. From the expression on the doctor’s face he knew that this visit concerned Lee Crane. “Will, what I can do for you?” he asked, gesturing to a chair.
“It would seem that the Captain has decided to disregard my orders Again!” Jamieson grumbled as he dropped into the chair.
Nelson looked from Jamieson to Morton, who had followed the doctor in and stood behind him, then back to Jamieson when he got no clue from the blond. “What’s he done?” As if I didn’t know. Nelson thought wearily at finding himself once more having to mediate in the ongoing battle of wills between Crane and the doctor. Not helped by the fact that he was responsible for Lee’s condition.
ignored my instruction to return to
Nelson turned to address Morton. “Chip?”
“Lee rang me to say that he was staying on for a few weeks to spend some time with Rachel. He said that he was okay and would see a doctor there.”
wasn’t happy that Lee had gone against Jamieson’s medical advice, but he was prepared
to cut him some slack. This was his
fault and if Lee needed some space then he it was the least he could do to give
him the time. He could only imagine how
Lee must be feeling and he hoped that Lee would be able to forgive him for
being so weak and giving in to Krueger.
He turned back to Jamieson. “Is his condition serious enough to warrant
his return to
“I think so, Admiral. He is recovering from a serious injury and still has stitches.”
“Which come out on Monday?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean that he’s healed. He has internal as well as external stitches. Something could still go wrong if he does something he shouldn’t.”
Again Nelson addressed Morton. “Chip, you know Lee better than anyone. How did he sound? Do you think that he is all right?”
Chip shook his head. “I don’t know, Admiral. If Lee really does want to spend time with Rachel, then I would be the last person to interfere. But something doesn’t feel right. I’d be a lot happier if I could speak to him face to face.”
Nelson nodded thoughtfully. “Lee nearly died. Something like that focuses the mind on what’s really important. Maybe Lee needs some time to re-evaluate his life. A steady relationship might be good for him.”
Chip snorted. “Seaview is his life; he would never give her up for anything.”
Nelson rested back and regarded them both. Lee was in the wrong for disobeying Jamieson’s orders, but this wasn’t the Navy and Nelson was reluctant to interfere in Lee’s private life; especially after what had happened. “If we could find and speak to the doctor who is treating Lee, would that satisfy you?”
“It would be a start, but he doesn’t know Lee, doesn’t know how sneaky he can be.”
“Okay, Chip – take FS 1 and see what you can find out. I know you don’t like the thought of spying on Lee, but it’s for his own good.”
“He’s not going to like it if he finds out.”
“Then you had better make sure that he doesn’t find out.”
Arriving at the Maple Inn, Chip was disturbed that Lee had taken off without telling anyone where he was going. Chip had managed to book the room that Lee had vacated and would ask around to see if anyone had seen Lee or Rachel since they disappeared. Chip fastened the throat mike and flipped on the power. “FS 1 to Nelson, come in please, over.”
“Nelson here, go ahead, Chip.”
Admiral, Sir – I’m sorry to have to report that Lee isn’t here.” Chip could picture Nelson’s reaction – he wouldn’t be pleased.
“Not there! Well where is he?” Nelson demanded over the radio.
Chip grimaced, “I don’t know, Sir. Apparently he and Miss Burrows left together yesterday, but no-one knows where,” he heard a muffled curse from Nelson.
“Very well, Chip – see what you can find out.”
“Yes, Sir – FS 1 out.” Chip broke the connection. How was he supposed to find his errant Captain if he didn’t want to be found? Lee was trained to evade detection and was very good at covering his tracks. But why? What was going on in Lee’s head? He could understand that Lee was upset and although Lee had a tendency to bottle things up, he’d never known him to run away from anything.
Chip had spoken to Lee’s mother, hoping to find him there, but she had told him that Lee had stopped by to pick up some things and told her that he would be away for a while. Mrs. Crane had learned a long time ago not to ask questions, but she was concerned as to why Chip was ringing her, and why he didn’t know where Lee was. Chip had tried to re-assure her that it was a break down in communications.
It was 23.57, but Lee couldn’t sleep. He sleep was disturbed by bad dreams. He had tried to sort out the conflicting emotions that he felt. Since he had accepted Captaincy of Seaview, he and Nelson had become as close as father and son, which only made it more painful to deal with. Slipping on his robe he walked through into the kitchen and sat on the floor beside the sliding glass doors, resting back against the frame. Gazing out at the night, he watched the white caps of the waves breaking just yards from the door and he could hear the sound of the ocean.
“Lee, what’s wrong?” Rachel padded barefoot across to kneel beside him.
He sighed and shook his head. “I couldn’t sleep,”
“Tell me what happened?” Rachel said softly.
He reached out and put an arm around her, pulling her to him.
Rachel snuggled close, resting her head on his shoulder. For a few moments they sat in silence.
“Are you hungry?” Rachel asked. “I could make toast or something.”
Lee shook his head. “Just keep me company?” he felt the need for the touch of another human being. He closed his eyes and tried to shut out the thought whirling around in his head. He was exhausted and needed sleep, but he knew that the dreams would return to haunt him. It hurt that Nelson had shot him, and in the back. But what really bothered him was that Nelson had not trusted him enough to tell him the truth about Kruger; hadn’t they been through enough together? He knew that he was running away, it was something that he had never done before and he despised himself for it. The thought of loosing Seaview and leaving the people that had become like family was unbearable. Where would he go? He’d never thought about a life outside of NIMR, Seaview was his life. He told himself that he just needed time.
“Lee, talk to me.”
He turned and smiled, he could not see her face clearly in the dark. “I’m tired, Rachel.”
“Then let’s go to bed. I promise I won’t try to seduce you. I don’t think you’re up to that either,” she smiled.
He didn’t have the energy to argue so he let her lead him back to the bedroom. He wanted to crawl into bed and stay there for a week, he was so tired.
She climbed into bed beside him and pulled him against her, then pulled the quilt over them both. He took a shaky breath and closed his eyes, his head lulling into her shoulder. She settled more comfortably against the headboard and listened to the sound of his breathing while she stroked his hair. Her vision blurred with tears, it tore at her heart to see him looking so down. He looked so vulnerable, totally unlike the confident submarine Captain that she knew him to be.
After a few minutes he pulled away and rolled onto his back, raising an arm to cover his eyes.
“Lee?” she whispered, pulling his arm away. “Look at me, tell me what’s wrong.”
He stared up at the ceiling. “I...can’t talk about it.”
She knew how close he was to Nelson and Chip, something really bad must have happened to cause Lee to run, and she realised that was what he was doing. That was why he’d registered under another name, and why he didn’t want anyone to know where he was. “Lee, I’m sure that things are not as bad as you think. Why don’t you let me speak to Chip?
Lee shook his head. “No, it’s nothing like that.”
“There must be something I can do to help. I hate to see you like this.”
“I’ll be okay.”
Rachel felt a pang of guilt, it was expecting a lot of him to trust her now, after the way she had behaved the last time she had seen him. “I told you, I love you. I don’t expect you to reciprocate, but I’m here if you need me.”
“I’m okay, you should go back to bed, Rachel.”
Lee shifted in his sleep and moaned softly, his eyelids fluttered but he didn’t wake. He looked so vulnerable lying there and Rachel wondered if he was in pain. She debated whether she should wake him up. What terrible thing had happened that he could not talk about? She knew that his job was dangerous at times and she hated to think of him hurting. She gently touched his face and he mumbled something, swatting her hand away. There was something about him that tugged at her heart. She so wanted to snuggle close and hold him, he was so disarmingly gorgeous, sexy and yet innocent and unguarded. Under that tough, professional exterior that he displayed to the world, there was a gentle, caring and slightly shy man. She loved watching him, his features softened by sleep, his dark hair mussed. She could image waking up next him every day, but that was never going to happen; she smiled wistfully.
tailed Rachel from the shopping mall, making sure that she didn’t spot him
following. With all the coming and
going, he hoped that she would not notice him pull into the guest parking lot
at the side of the
He followed on foot, watching her take the groceries from the trunk and down to the beach bungalow hidden away at the edge of the property.
So this was where Lee was holed up. He waited until Rachel went inside before circling the bungalow, looking for a way in. He couldn’t take the change of going in the front door; if Lee knew he was here, he’d bolt.
The back door was open and he entered through the utility room. He could hear voices, yes that was definitely Lee, but he couldn’t make out what he was saying. Pursuing the voices to the kitchen, he stopped outside the partly open door. Lee was sitting at the table watching Rachel as she packed the groceries away.
Chip fought the urge to confront his friend, Lee would not be happy if he knew that Chip was here checking on him. Reluctantly, he quietly retraced his steps to the kitchen and left the same way that he’d entered. . He looked around for somewhere he could watch without being seen. He would wait and watch to see what happened.
Lee stood on the beach listening to the sound of the waves. The ocean always called to him and he could never resist its pull for long. He wasn’t sure what lay ahead for him now. Why couldn’t he put what had happened behind him and move on? Shoving his hands into his jeans pockets to moved closer to the water to walk on the wet sand, letting the cool ocean waves wash around his feet. Rachel calling him broke into his reverie and he turned to see her running down the beach towards him.
“Lee, Doc O’Malley can see you this afternoon,” she smiled.
He forced a smile. “Thanks, Rachel,” he took her hand and they started back towards the bungalow. Getting the stitches removed would be one more step towards his recovery, but he knew that it was going to be some time before he would be back to full fitness, both physically and mentally. He hadn’t expected the shooting to affect him so intensely. He’d thought that he was going to die and then he’d felt the cold touch of Krueger, and a new nightmare began.
“What do you want for lunch?” Rachel asked they entered the bungalow.
He shrugged. “I’m not very hungry.”
Rachel paused on her way to the kitchen and looked at him with concern in her eyes. “You have to eat, Lee.”
Lee took a deep breath, resisting the urge to yell at her, she was only trying to help. “I’m fine Rachel, honest. But I wouldn’t say no to a cup of coffee.” He smiled.
Rachel shook her at him. “You’d live on coffee,” she chastised jokingly.
Jamie lectured him on his consumption of coffee. Lee pulled out a chair and sank into it. He knew that he had to come to terms with what had happened before he could face returning to captaining Seaview, but he wasn’t sure that he could. Every time he closed his eyes to sleep the memory returned to haunt his dreams.
“Lee?” Rachel placed a mug of coffee down in front of him and sat down next to him.
Lee couldn’t look at her, afraid that he would not be able to maintain his composure. He picked up the mug with a shaking hand and took a sip of the hot liquid.
“Lee, let me call Chip. You need to talk to someone, and if you can’t tell me, then...”
Lee shook his head determinedly. “NO!” Lee swore silently; was he going crazy? “I’m sorry,” he apologised quietly. Why the hell couldn’t he get past what had happened? He was Captain of the Seaview for heaven’s sake. He needed to get off his butt and face whatever was eating at him.
had called Nelson and told him that he had found Lee, although he had not
spoken to him. He’d watched Lee on the
beach that morning. He knew that Lee was
in the habit of walking on the beach when something was bothering him. He also knew that Seaview was an important
part of Lee’s life, and he hoped that would be enough to persuade Lee to return to
He’d had to be careful following Rachel when she and Lee had left the bungalow, if Lee noticed that they were being followed; there was no telling what he might do. Chip had managed to find a place to park just down the street from the doctor’s house where he could keep watch. At least Lee seemed to be keeping his promise to see a doctor, but he still wished that he could be present to hear what the doctor had to say. He couldn’t help wondering what story Lee had told the doctor about how he came to be injured and how much had he told Rachel? Of course Rachel knew that some of Seaview’s missions were dangerous, but she didn’t know that Lee was an ONI operative.
Chip’s mind went back to the moment when Lee had been brought aboard unconscious. He’d been rushed to sickbay and Chip had been forced to remain at the con, when all he had wanted to do was follow his friend to sickbay. It felt like an eternity waiting for news on Lee’s condition. Even after Jamieson had finished operating, Lee’s life still hung in the balance for twenty four hours. Chip and Nelson had taken it in turns to sit with Lee for the three days it had taken for him to regain consciousness. It was a miracle that there had not been any infection to set back his recovery.
and Rachel leaving focused Chip’s mind back on the present. He waited until they returned to Rachel’s car
before starting the engine of his rental and heading back to the
Chip had eaten dinner in his room. He hadn’t wanted to risk discovery by using the restaurant; he hoped that Lee was eating. His three days on a drip in Sickbay had not helped.
Under cover of darkness, Chip left his room and headed out to check on the bungalow. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness before making his way along the cliff path to the steps that gave access to the beach. From the cliff he could see the lights from the town and the illuminations on the pier.
Reaching the beach he caught sight of a lone figure standing looking out to sea. There was no mistaking the form of Lee Crane, his dark curls being tussled by the sea breeze. As Chip moved closer, Lee looked so alone that he wanted to go comfort him, but he wasn’t sure that Lee would accept that from him right now.
into the shadow of the rocks, Chip watched his friend. He didn’t need the bowed head and slumped
shoulders to tell him that Lee was troubled.
He knew that Lee’s being out here was a sign that he was anxious. Back in
Lee suddenly turned and started walking back towards the bungalow. Chip remained where he was, watching him. When Lee seemed to stumble and fall Chip did not hesitate, he took off at a run towards where Lee was sitting clutching his left foot.
“Lee, what’s wrong?” Chip asked, dropping to his knees beside him and ignoring the way that Lee flinched away from him.
“Chip!” It was little more than a whisper, but carried a mixture of emotions that were echoed in Lee’s dark eyes.
Chip smiled and put a hand on Lee’s shoulder. “Hi, buddy.” In the light from the bungalow, Chip could see blood oozing out between Lee’s fingers where he held his foot. “What happened?”
“I stepped on something sharp, probably a shell,” Lee replied almost absently as he stared at Chip. “What are you doing here?”
“Later, let’s get you inside and take a look at that foot,” Without giving Lee time to argue, Chip helped him up and slipped an arm around his waist to help him to the bungalow.
“Lee?” Rachel asked, walking into the kitchen, then looked at Morton. “Chip, how did you get here?”
“Never mind that now. Do you have a first aid kit?” Chip asked as Lee dropped into a chair.
“Yes, of course.”
Chip found a basin and ran hot water into it. Placing it on the floor next to Lee he knelt beside it. “Let’s take a look.”
Lee sat silently almost as if in shock, making no objections while Chip cleaned the cut on his foot. “Doesn’t look too bad, I don’t think it will need stitches.”
Lee nodded, his gaze flashed to Rachel as she returned with the first aid kit. “You set me up.”
Rachel shook her head. “No, Lee – I would never do anything to hurt you.”
“Don’t blame her, she didn’t know I was following her,” Chip reached out and took the kit. “Lee, listen to me, no-one is mad at you. Except Jamie maybe.” He joked.
“Is as worried about you as I am. He sent me to look for you.” Chip put the kit on the floor and opened it. He knew that when Lee was in this frame of mind, it would be hard work trying to reason with him. “Doc will go mad if he see’s you like this.” Chip turned to Rachel. “Could you make some coffee?”
Turning back to Lee he bandaged a dressing in place over the cut and secured it with tape. “How does that feel?”
“It’s fine, thanks.”
Chip knew that he had been right to worry; he could see that Lee was on the edge of exhaustion and he guessed that he had not been sleeping. “Talk to me, buddy.”
Lee shook his head. “There’s nothing to talk about.”
Chip sighed. “Damn it, Lee – stop being so stubborn and talk to me.” He wanted to shake some sense into his friend, but Lee was fragile with the freshly healed wounds still causing him pain, although he would not admit to it.
Lee dropped his head and rubbed his eyes. “Stop fussing and leave me alone.”
Chip heard the irritation in Lee’s voice, but he wasn’t about to leave Lee alone yet. He put a hand on his shoulder. “Come on, you’re exhausted, you need sleep.”
Lee looked up at him. “You’re wasting your time, I’m not coming back with you,” he scowled, shrugging Chip off.
Chip grinned; he’d expected Lee to argue. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow.” Chip took at seat at the table as Rachel put two mugs down in front of them.
“Do you have somewhere to stay?” she asked.
I took a room at the
“You can stay here; I think Lee needs you more than he needs me.”
Lee looked up from his mug and glared at her. “I don’t need a nursemaid.”
“Then stop acting like child having a tantrum.”
Rachel’s retort surprised even Chip and he hid a smile. He saw Lee bite back a retort, he was too much of a gentleman to yell at her like he would have done if it had been anyone else.
Lee sighed heavily and got to his feet. “I’m tired, I’m going to bed.”
Chip smiled sympathetically at Rachel. “He’s stubborn.”
“What happened? He wouldn’t tell me.” Rachel put her own mug of coffee on the table and sat down.
sorry, Rachel, I can’t tell you, but Lee was seriously injured and he should be
Rachel nodded thoughtfully. “He said he needed to see a doctor yesterday, but he said it was nothing serious. I thought it was something to do with his feeling ill the other night.”
Alarms suddenly went off in Chip’s head at this news. “What happened?”
“He was feeling ill, he looked terrible and he was shaking, but he said he wasn’t cold. Then when he got back to the room, he was sick. I asked doc O’Malley to take a look at him since he was at the reception.”
“Good, do you have the doctor’s number? I’ll give it to Jamieson and he can contact him.”
Lee felt like he hadn’t slept for more than a few minutes all night. His sleep had been disturbed by more bad dreams and now he lay awake listening to the sounds of the night. He knew that he was acting like a jerk, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself. His world had turned upside down and everything was spiralling out of control.
With a groan, he sat up and rubbed a hand across his face. He was beginning to realise that he wasn’t going to solve anything by hiding away here. Throwing back the covers, he almost stumbled out of bed and gasped in pain as the movement pulled on his newly healed wound. Pressing a hand to his side, he sat on the bed. The night was warm and he was restless. Limping barefoot to the kitchen, he switched on the light; the clock showed 05.00.
He put on some coffee then pulled open the refrigerator and surveyed the contents. It was too early for breakfast, but he was hungry having hardly touched his meal last evening. Taking a carton of milk from the fridge, he found a bowl and the breakfast cereal. A few minutes later he sat at the table eating cereal and drinking coffee.
Lee didn’t know how long he’d been asleep, but he woke to find sun shining through the window and the smell of cooking filled the kitchen, making his mouth water. He lifted his head from the crook of his arm and straightened in the chair.
“How long have you been there?” Chip asked from where he stood in the doorway.
Lee gave him a sideways glance. “I couldn’t sleep. Why are you still here?”
“I see your mood hasn’t improved,” Chip commented as he approached the table and sat down.
“I’m sorry,” Lee again felt guilty. He dragged a hand through his hair. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think I’m losing it.”
Chip reached out and touched Lee’s shoulder. “You’re exhausted. I bet you haven’t been sleeping? You need to stop beating yourself up and let us help you.”
“Why don’t we all have breakfast? Then you can get ready to fly back with Chip,” Rachel interrupted as she put plates of food down in front of Lee and Chip.
“I don’t remember agreeing to that.” Lee suddenly panicked. He wasn’t sure that he was ready to go back...
“Lee, you’re not doing any good skulking around here. Go back with Chip and sort out whatever the problem is,” Rachel told him sternly.
“You sound like my Mom,” Lee couldn’t keep the smile from his face. It was the first time in he couldn’t remember how long, that the smile wasn’t forced. “You’re right. I’m sorry, Rachel.”
She moved round to stand behind him and bent to give him a hug, “You’re forgiven,” then kissed his cheek. “Just get better.”
Lee resisted the urge to tell her that he wasn’t sick.
“Should I leave you two alone,” Chip teased.
Lee felt himself blush; it wasn’t the first time that Chip had teased him about Rachel. He had to admit that after a shaky start, he had enjoyed seeing her again and it had been him who had made a complete ass of himself this time.
Rachel stood on the beach, watching Lee walk away. He’d given her a hug and told her to take care of herself. Her heart was breaking, but she fought back the tears. When he reached FS 1 Lee turned and smiled before stepping through the hatch and closing it behind him. She wrapped her arms around herself and continued to watch as the craft slowly disappeared below the water.
Rachel felt numb inside, she loved Lee Crane and he had left her again. She wondered if she would ever see him again. Wiping away a tear, she continued to stand staring out to sea. The beach was empty and silent except for the wind that whipped through her hair, and sound of the surf. She loved the sea, even though it took him away.
Dressed in dark pants and black sweater, Lee Crane walked slowly through the empty control room, running a hand over control panels. Seaview was in dock with only the shore based backup crew aboard. He’d wanted to spend some time alone aboard in order to try and sort out his feelings. He was still on medical leave and except for his dress blues, his uniforms were still in his cabin. He knew that Chip would have packed for him if he’d asked. Anyhow, Seaview was not a navy boat and no-one was likely to call him on it.
He found himself hesitating at the bottom of the spiral stairs leading up to officer’s country, with his hand on the rail. He hadn’t been in that area of the boat since the shooting. Hesitantly, he put a foot on the first step; he knew that he was being irrational. Normally he enjoyed walking the corridors and usually took a turn around the boat each evening before he turned in. If he couldn’t even face setting foot in officer’s country, how could he ever hope to return to duty? Pull yourself together, Crane, he reprimanded himself. With renewed determination, he climbed the stairs without further hesitation.
Lee’s own cabin was more or less as he had left it. He took a few minutes to tidy his desk and put the paperwork into his briefcase. It was nothing that couldn’t wait until he returned to light duty – if he returned. He could pack the rest of his gear later, first there was something that he needed to do. Leaving his cabin he walked down the corridor and turned the corner, a few more steps took him to Nelson’s cabin. He knocked and waited, he didn’t expect the Admiral to be here, but didn’t want to barge in unannounced if he was. Getting no response, he opened the door and looked around before entering the cabin. Stepping inside, he closed the door. He’d spent a lot of time here with Nelson, discussing mission details or simply talking during a break between watches.
As he turned towards the desk a chill ran down his back as he recalled the last time he’d been in Nelson’s cabin. It had been after they buried Krueger; Lee had accompanied Nelson to his cabin. Nelson had seemed obsessed about crossing the 16th parallel. Lee had asked him what was wrong. Then Nelson had picked up the gun and aimed it at him...
his gaze from the desk, Lee stood, head slightly bowed as he contemplated the
deck. Where do I go from here? His mother
would welcome him home with open arms.
She worried about him being on a submarine; she’d already lost her
husband and would be happy to have him doing something sensible and safe. But he was a man of action; he’d go crazy
tied to a desk. He suddenly felt very
tired. The events of the past few days
had taken their toll. Although Jamieson
had insisted that he spent twenty four hours in
He was about to leave when the door opened and Nelson entered. “Lee.”
“Admiral, Sir, I’m sorry.” Lee started to apologise. “I didn’t mean to intrude, I was...”
“That’s all right Lee. Come and sit down. How are you feeling?” Nelson asked as he moved to sit at his desk and indicated a chair.
“I’m much better, thank you,” Lee sat in the chair rather than taking his usual place perched on the corner of the desk.
“I’m glad you’re here, I’ve wanted to talk to you.”
Lee felt himself tense, expecting a lecture about disobeying Jamieson’s instructions and pulling a disappearing act.
“We didn’t have much chance to talk after...” Nelson hesitated. “After what happened.”
Lee sat with his hands in his lap, twisting his ring. “I’d rather not talk about it, Sir. I want to forget the whole mission even happened.”
“Are you sure you’re all right, Lee?” Nelson studied him across the desk.
“Yes, Admiral, I’m a little tired that’s all,” he admitted reluctantly.
you spent the night in
“If you’re that tired, this can wait,” Nelson reached for the phone. “I’ll have someone drive you home.”
Lee lowered his gaze. “Actually, I was planning on taking a nap in my cabin.”
“Nonsense,” Nelson protested. “I’ve got a perfectly good spare room you can use. Unless of course you would feel more comfortable with someone else?”
Lee shook his head and smiled shyly. “I’d like that, Admiral, thank you.”
Nelson pushed to his feet. “Alright then, let’s go.”
“Err, Admiral, don’t you have work to do? I don’t want to take you away from your work.”
Nelson put a hand on Lee’s shoulder, steering him towards the door. “You’re my priority right now, lad. Seaview needs her Captain and I need you as a friend.”
Lee felt himself blush, it was rare for the Admiral to admit his feelings and it was good to know that the bond between them had survived another trauma that had almost destroyed them both. “Maybe we could have that talk over dinner.”
“I think that can be arranged.”
Somewhere in the night
Inside my dreams you burn so bright
And I’m with you there and everything’s all right
Somewhere in the night
Before the darkness turns to light
Let me love you there, somewhere in the night
Scott Bakula. - Quantum Leap.