With thanks to Diane for her Beta
Stowaway by Pauline
Kaufmann, the Master at Arms at
“We’re sorry, Sir.” One of the men apologised.
“He was in civilian clothes and we didn’t know who he was,” the other one offered. “And we didn’t hit him, he stumbled and fell.”
Kaufmann looked from one to the other. “Stumbled or was pushed?”
“He didn’t have any identification and appeared to be either drunk or on something,” the first man added defensively.
Kaufmann glared at the men. “Despite the fact that he did not smell of alcohol? The Captain was returning from an assignment; of course he didn’t have any ID. Why didn’t you call Seaview to verify his identity? Couldn’t you see that the man was injured?
“It was dark, Sir.”
“That doesn’t excuse the fact that you failed to call or render medical assistance. If Commander Crane wishes to press charges, I will have to place you under arrest, but for now you are confined to quarters.”
“Yes, Sir,” both men answered in unison.
As they were escorted out by two MPs, Kaufmann shook his head as he turned to Chip Morton who had been standing silently beside him. “Idiots! I’m very sorry about this incident, if there is anything I can do...”
Morton nodded. “Thank you. That will be sufficient. If you will excuse me, I need to get back to Seaview.”
Kaufmann sighed. “Of course.”
Chip made straight for sickbay, he found Jamieson sitting beside Lee’s bunk. “How is he, Doc?”
“Still drifting in and out. I think it’s a combination of exhaustion and dehydration on top of the head injury. His body has simply had enough and has put him to sleep.”
“Will he be okay?”
“Yes, his vitals are strong. He should be fine after a few days rest,” Jamieson smiled assuringly. “You want to sit with him for a while?” Jamieson asked as he surrendered the seat to Chip.
Jamie,” Chip dropped into the chair. Seaview was at
When Seaview had finally been informed of the incident, he and Jamieson had gone straight to the clinic. Chip had been appalled by Lee’s treatment and was ready to chew someone’s head off. Lee should have not tried to get onto the base without ID, but the gate guards should have called it in for verification by either their superior or Seaview.
Jamieson had wanted Lee to remain at the clinic overnight, but Chip had been insistent that they take him back to Seaview. He didn’t want Lee waking up there with strangers. The last thing they needed was to have Lee walk out again and get into another confrontation with the base personnel.
A small groan focused his attention to the man in the bunk. “Lee, are you awake?” he asked.
Crane’s head ached. Slowly he opened his eyes, squinting against the too bright florescent light and groaned.
“Lee, are you awake?”
Lee recognised his friend’s voice and tried to respond. Another groan escaped as he tried to lift his head. Pain splintered across his shoulders and down his left arm.
“Easy, Lee,” Chip Morton soothed. “Do you want a sip of water?”
Lee nodded in response, unable to form a verbal answer.
“Here, let me help,” Chip slipped an arm under him to help raise him enough for him to drink.
“Thanks.” Lee shivered, feeling suddenly cold.
Chip grabbed a blanket from the next bunk and spread it over him. “Better?”
“Yeah, thanks, Chip.”
“The Master at Arms wants to know if you want to press charges against the gate guards.”
Lee gave a small shake of his head. “No...they were doing their job.”
“A bit too enthusiastically, if you ask me,” Chip grumbled.
Lee smiled. His friend was in full big brother mode. Morton took it as a personal affront if anyone dared to hurt him. “Down, Chip. How long was I out?”
“You’ve been in and out for most of the night and morning; this is the first time that you’ve been up to conversation. How do you feel?”
“Not sure yet,” Lee tried to sit up, but pain spiked again in his shoulder and arm and he clamped his other hand over it to immobilise it. “Owww, that hurts.”
“It’s probably not a good idea for you to be moving around too much.”
“What’s our status?” Lee asked, changing the subject.
“The new torpedoes have been stowed in the missile room and we are ready to sail as soon as your assault has been dealt with.”
Lee sighed, “There’s nothing to deal with as far as I’m concerned. It was my fault for trying to get on base without any ID, and it wasn’t an assault, I got dizzy and fell.”
“You shouldn’t have discharged yourself from the medical facility. I’m not even going to ask how you got here.”
“I can’t tell you,” Lee answered. Crane wondered if the jeep he had borrowed had been found yet. He hadn’t wanted to be found in a stolen jeep in case it had already been reported. Someone might have shot him. “I’ll speak to Captain O’Neill about the guards. Give me a hand up.”
shook his head. “I’m not going against Jamie’s orders. I’ll have
“Fine,” Lee gave another sigh of frustration. “We’ll do it that way.” He hated it when Chip sided with Jamie against him. It was fortunate Nelson wasn’t aboard or he would have called Starke by now and had him contact the base CO. That kind of help Lee didn’t need right now.
Twelve hours later, Seaview was on her way home. Lee had finally persuaded Jamie to let him return to his cabin; although he was on the sick list for the duration of their cruise home. Chip gets to be Captain more than me, he mused as he lay in his bunk working out what he was going to tell Nelson. A knock on his cabin door interrupted his thoughts. “Come.” He called in reply.
Chip entered the cabin with a black and white tabby cat in his arms.
“What’s this?” Lee asked in surprise. Since when did Seaview have a cat?
“It’s seems, Captain, that we have a stowaway. One of the crew found her hanging around the mess. She must have sneaked aboard while we were in port.”
“Well, you’re acting Captain, Chip. You can take charge of the prisoner.” Lee smiled.
At that moment the cat jumped out of Chip’s arms and onto the bunk. She sniffed the blankets, then moved up to stand on Lee’s chest. She mewed at him plaintively, wanting attention.
“I think she likes you, better.” Chip chuckled.
Mindful of his injured shoulder, Lee lifted his left hand to scratch the cat’s ears and she began purring loudly. When he stopped, she head butted him under the chin and he found himself looking into two green eyes. “So little lady, what are we going to do with you?”
“We could adopt her. A lot of boats have cats,” Morton suggested.
“I don’t think the Admiral would approve. You’d better call the base and see if anyone is missing a pet. I’m sure that somewhere there is a very distressed owner.”
“What do you want me to do with her?”
“You can leave her here, for now; we don’t want her getting lost or hurt. ” Lee folded one arm behind his head and stroked a hand through the thick, soft coat as the cat lay spread across his stomach, purring contentedly. “I don’t mind and she doesn’t seem to, either.”
weeks later, the Flying Sub, with Crane at the controls, landed at
Lee handed the carrier to Kowalski while he climbed into the back of the car, then took it and placed it on the seat next to him. Kowalski went around and got in beside the driver.
As the car pulled away, Toffee made her dislike of travelling by car known by yowling loudly. Lee looked at the carrier in surprise and alarm; the cat had not made a sound while on the Flying Sub. He didn’t want to chance taking her out of the carrier in case she tried to make a break for it. Another escape artist, Lee thought with amusement. However, his amusement was short lived as the awful noise continued. “Hey, what’s all the noise about?” Feeling somewhat self consciously, he lifter the carrier onto his lap in a effort to sooth the distressed animal.
“I guess she doesn’t like car travel, Skipper,” Kowalski commented, turning to look back over the seat.
“It won’t be long,” Lee told the cat who meowed in response.
He was relieved when the car pulled up in front of house where a woman and two little blond haired girls stood waiting. Kowalski opened the door and took the carrier from Crane while he climbed out of the car.
“Toffee, Toffee,” the two excited children ran towards Kowalski.
Lee smiled as he walked towards their mother. “Mrs McCulloch, I’m Lee Crane.”
“Pleased to meet you Commander.” The woman smiled in return. “Thank you for brining Toffee back, the children were very upset when she went missing.”
“I’m sorry we couldn’t get her back to you sooner,” Lee apologised. He’d wanted to return the cat in person, but had not been passed fit to fly until now.
“That’s all right, thank you for looking after her. Won’t you come in; there are some people who would like to talk to you?”
Curios, Lee nodded agreement. “Kowalski.”
“Right behind you, Sir.”
They followed her into the house, and while Kowalski put the carrier down and released the cat, Lee’s attention fell on the two men standing stiffly in the hallway. He recognised them as the two guards that had been on duty at the gate when he had arrived at the base 2 weeks earlier.
“Commander, these two men have something they’d like to say,” Mrs McCulloch said as she turned from closing the door. “Come along girls,” she ushered the children into the adjoining room.
“At easy, gentlemen,” Lee gave Kowalski a sideways glance aware that crewman was hovering close by. He suspected that Kowalski was here as body guard as well as co-pilot.
“Thank you, Sir,” both men visibly relaxed. “We wanted to apologise, Sir. We’re very sorry about what happened.”
Lee smiled. “There is nothing to apologise for, you were just doing your job.” It wasn’t the first time he’d been accosted while trying to get aboard his sub.
“That’s very generous of your Sir.”
“If that’s all gentlemen? You’re dismissed.”
“Yes, Sir – thank you, Sir.” The two men hastily left
Lee turned to Kowalski, “I think I smell coffee. Let’s go check on Toffee and see how she is settling back in.”
Kowalski grinned. “Yes, Sir.”