*Authors Note: This story takes place after the fourth season episode "The Edge of Doom".

 

Command Decisions

By

Sandy Wilson

 

Commander Lee Crane sat at his desk and stared at the piece of paper in front of him in disbelief. It seemed unreal; he was really going to resign from Seaview. Doubts about his decision surfaced at a regular rate since he had made his decision. The submarine had been docked in Santa Barbara for repairs for about 36 hours now and the entire crew was off for a well-deserved shore leave.

The last mission hadnít been an easy one and Seaview had been seriously damaged. His relationship with the admiral had been compromised by a report from ONI that there was a spy aboard. Chip Morton, his XO and Harriman Nelson, their Admiral, had tested his loyalty rigorously, only to find the real culprit had been an imposter posing as Chief Sharkey. There were things had been said in anger that could not be taken back between he and the admiral. He hadnít realized how much the Admiralís respect for him mattered to him. To find out that he had been suspected as a spy and to be set up by his own men was singularly distressing. Transfering out was the only solution now; the crew had seen the Admiralís lack of confidence in him.

Morale was an important factor aboard a submarine and lack of it could be disastrous in a the right situation. The only way for the crew to heal itself and get past this incident was for him to step aside. Let a new captain step in and take care of Seaview and his crew. Still, he was suprized that the letter of resignation had been acknowledged and approved so routinely and without comment by his superior officer. Despite their current state, he had always felt that Admiral Nelson was one of his closest friends. One of the major reasons for his attachment to this vessel, was his deep admiration and respect for her creator and founder of the Nelson Institute for Marine Research; his ultimate commanding officer, Admiral Harriman Nelson

He rose from his office chair, and ran his hand through his dark hair as he paced the length of the cabin. It was true; he hadnít asked for this command. He had been content aboard his last naval submarine command assignment. But Admiral Harriman Nelson had asked for his reassignment to Seaview after Seaviewís previous commander, John Phillips had been killed by Gamma.

Every sub commander dreamed of a command like Seaview! Captain Lee Crane was no exception; he had a deep attachment for the legendary boat, and her complement. All those aboard his boat were experts in multiple fields. In fact, he himself was the youngest full commander in the United States Navy; his career was on the upward spiral when he relinquished his commission to take command of Seaview. Although he was younger than most of the men aboard Seaview, he was widely respected, and his orders were carried out with a prompt efficiency that bespoke a deep loyalty throughout the crew.

The assignment had been made easier by his close friendship with Chip Morton, his Executive Officer. Chip was an original plank owner on the Seaview and he and Morton had known each other since Annapolis where they had been roommates and stiff competitors. They were one and two all through school, and even now they still worked well as a team. Their easy informality had worked in their favor on many occasions.

This reassignment would be a difficult one. Any command assignment would pale in comparison to Seaview.

****************

Once in dry-dock, Seaviewís repairs would take approximately four weeks to complete. The circuitry room had been badly damaged during their previous mission and numerous minor repairs had to be made and new transmitter installed.

Chip Morton hummed under his breath as he entered the offices of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research. He needed to make a report to Lee Crane, Seaviewís commanding officer regarding her repairs. Smiling brightly at Lola, Leeís attractive secretary, he mistook her wave for a friendly 'go on in, he waiting for you' wave instead of the 'gale warning' wave she meant it to be. As Lola rose quickly to head off the unfortunate officer, it was too late. Chip strolled into Craneís office.

Chip Morton found his captain sitting behind his desk, his head resting on one had as he wrote vigorously on a pad of paper. Crane seemed completely engrossed in his documentation and did not respond to Chips entrance. As Morton stood waiting for his captainsí attention, he cleared his throat and noticed for the first time two boxes sitting on the floor behind the desk.

"Um, uhÖ Lee?" Chip said hesitantly, intending to broach the subject of the boxes behind his C.O.ís desk.

Crane glanced up at Chipís words and Morton was shocked to see the dark circles under his friendsí eyes. Cranes' face was a mask of exhaustion and there was a tension about his eyes that revealed several nights of missed sleep. Morton noticed that Lee was garbed in his dress blues and most of the personal affects of his office were missing from the walls and his desktop.

"Mr. Morton," Crane said in his best command voice, "In the future you will refer to your superiors with their formal titles. Your next C.O. may not be a lenient as I am regarding you informality."

Captain Lee Crane stood and slowly walked around his desk until he was standing directly in front of his friend, taking a deep slow breath he looked Chip Morton in the eye, clasped his hands behind his back and said in a well rehearsed tone, " Commander Morton, Iím leaving the institute. Youíll be in command here until the Admiral Nelson returns from Washington."

Morton stood there in stunned silence. He watched mutely, as his friend and commanding officer slowly walked around his desk to pick up his briefcase. As Crane headed for the door, Chip found his voice, rushed over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. He asked, "Why Lee? I know itís been a difficult mission but weíre home now. Everyone is all right! Seaview is all right! Why donít you wait until the Admiral returns? Then we can all sit down and discuss this. Do you realize what youíre giving up?"

Hesitantly, Leeís hazel green eyes met Chipís gaze, "The Admiral knows Chip. I received the release this morning. I realize that my resignation date isnít effective for four more weeks. But, in light of Seaviewís dry-dock schedule I donít see how my staying on now will accomplish anything"

Crane gently threw off Chips hand and walked to the door and stood there, hesitating, unable to meet his friendís eyes, leaning heavily on the door as if he were using it as support. "This is the only solution Chip. After this last mission the crew is bound to know the Admiral doesnít trust me. The crew deserves a commander that they trust and can rely on. That trust is undermined now and the damage is already done. Its time to move on. Iíve wired a letter to the Navy asking for reactivation of my commission. Iíve left a letter of recommendation on my desk for you. Youíll find Iím recommending you as the new captain of Seaview."

Turning suddenly, Lee extended his hand to his former X.O. and said, "Goodbye Chip, take care of both of them for me will you?"

Chip met his handshake, but could not meet his gaze. This was all somehow his fault. He should have resisted Nelsonsí plan to crack Crane!

Lee walked reluctantly out of his office leaving his friend standing there in shock. He paused briefly to lay his NIMR identification badge on Lolaís desk and walked away from what had become his entire life.

***************************

Chip stood in that empty office and watched as Lee climbed into the private elevator that serviced the executive offices of the institute. This was too much! Lee was leaving because of General Beakerís order to break and reveal him as an enemy agent. Chip had betrayed Lee, just as Lee felt the Admiral had, but Lee wouldnít say it. No, Lee would never accuse him. They had known each other too long for that! Well, he was not going to let it end this way. He walked quickly to the institute phone and called institute security.

***************************

Admiral Harriman Nelson drove his blue 1980 Buick toward the security gate at the institute. Ahead of him he could see two uniformed security guards stuffing a protesting figure into the back seat of one of the institute security vehicles. As he stopped to pass security he asked the guard what was going on.

"Commander Morton found this guy snooping around the institute offices sir," said the officer stiffly in response to Nelson's query.

Seeing the security car pull away with its occupant still struggling inside, Nelson said, "Very well, carry on."

He pulled up into his usual parking space at the institute. The daylight was fading as the sun set in the west. It was the usual beautiful balmy day in Santa Barbara. Climbing out of his car, he silently congratulated himself on choosing this location for the institute. Its beautiful weather was a definite plus when it came to morale and work schedules. He sauntered to the main entrance of the institute, and turned around to grab a quick look at the graceful lines of Seaview. If you stopped at the top of the steps to the building you could see the outline of Seaview in dry-dock. It was good to be back.

The last mission had been strenuous for everyone, especially Lee. He looked forward to a quiet chat and perhaps some dinner with his best friend now that he was back in town. Crane had come through for them all again; it was Lee who had caught the imposter. It had hurt him to berate and belittle his Captain during that cruise, but it had been essential to be sure that Crane was not the enemy agent aboard.

The blowup in his office had told Nelson exactly how close he had come to losing Crane. Lee rarely raised his voice to his superior officer and he certainly never, but never gave him ultimatums.It had been this confrontation that had convinced him of Leeís innocence.

Although Lee had listened quietly, while he and Chip explained their behavior, Nelson still wasnít too sure that Lee understood or forgave them for their actions. Crane had been too quiet during their explanation, and had accepted it all too easily. He was worried for his friend. His relationship with Lee had quickly grown into a deep friendship rather more like father and son or as brothers, in the brief time since Crane took over command of Seaview. Nelson realized that he had hurt Lee personally with his attacks on his character during this mission and he had some fences to mend.

Nelson turned back toward the entrance of his institute and after swiping his card through the security checkpoint he climbed on the private elevator that would take him to his office and to a quiet evening of paperwork.

Once the elevator came to stop at the assigned floor Admiral Nelson stepped out of the elevator and headed down the richly appointed hallway toward his office. As he neared his office he was suprised to see his office door ajar. He sat down his briefcase and slowly pushed the door completely open in an effort to reveal who the intruder was. As the door opened completely he found the executive officer of the Seaview, Chip Morton was standing by his desk looking out his window at the same sight that had mesmerized him earlier, Seaview.

"Chip! What in the blazes are you doing here?" Nelson demanded as he entered the lighted room. His office was a spacious affair with paneled walls and a large window that faced the ocean. The window offered the widest vista facing the ocean the institute could offer. Chip turned around quickly at Nelsonís entrance and scrambled to straighten his appearance.

Admiral Nelson!" Morton said in relief. " We werenít expecting you to return until Monday sir." He stepped away from his superior officer's desk, anxious for the admiral to be seated so that he could discuss Lee Crane's departure from NIMR.

Nelson watched Morton with a slight degree of curiosity. Although Morton had a very high security clearance it was very odd to find him in his superiors office, especially when his superior wasnít in town. Setting down his brief case he loosened his tie and turned toward Morton, who was obviously waiting to speak to him immediately. He leaned back against the front of his desk, placed his hands in his pockets and said, "Well Chip, what is it?"

For the first time in their association Nelson saw his executive officer stammer as he searched for an explanation for his presence. Usually Chip Morton was the epitome of cool and calm. Nelson was sure in Websterís under the definition of control there was nothing but a picture of Commander Chip Morton. The reason for Chipís presence in Nelsonís office and his unraveled condition here was going to be a beauty!

Clearing his throat Chip took a minute to control his stammering. He hadnít expected Nelson back so soon. He had hoped for time to talk sense to Crane and mend the bridge between Nelson and his friend. He was now neatly caught in a trap of his own making! Well he thought, I deserve it, I should have stood up for Lee during the last mission I should have....

"Mr. Morton," he was brought out of his reverie by the admirals patient voice, "I am waiting Lt. Commander." However, now the Admiral's arms were crossed over his chest and there was a concerned look in his eyes.

"Admiral, I have just spoken to Lee..er uh, I mean Captain Crane sir," Chip said uncertainly. He wasnít sure what had transpired between his two commanding officers but he certainly didnít want to get caught in between.

"Yes, yes come on Chip, out with it! Nelson said impatiently.

"Sir, Lee has submitted his resignation from the institute," Chip pushed on carefully.

"What?! What in devils name for!" Nelson exclaimed, he moved briskly to the door, intending finding the Captain of the Seaview.

"Sir, are you saying you didnít know Lee had resigned?" Chip said happily, stopping Nelson at the door. Harriman Nelson turned toward his executive officer and signed deeply. He walked over to his desk and sat down slowly.

"Its true Chip, I did receive his resignation. And I had dictated a memo approving it. But after thinking the matter through, I realized that Lee was part of Seaview. Seaview needed him as much as he her! So, I cut my trip short and returned to Santa Barbara as soon as I could." Nelson explained. The admiral rubbed the back of his neck in irritation as he rose from his seat and paced the office the length of the office. Since Angie, the Admiralís secretary had gone on holiday, the temporary secretary, the worldís first living brain donor, he was sure, had screwed up every project he had assigned her! This was just the latest in a string of screw ups! Well, he would have to straighten this out with Lee himself; he wasnít going to lose Crane. Good sub drivers were hard to find, he told himself.

"Well Chip, lets go to Leeís office and weíll straighten him out," Nelson said and he once again made for the door.

"Admiral Nelson, he isnít in his office sir," said Morton quietly, not meeting his eyes.

"Alright Chip, weíll go to his apartment and weíll discuss it there," Nelson said as he collected his keys and briefcase.

"Sir, Leeís not at home either, sir," Chip said even more quietly.

Admiral Nelson stopped in his tracks, something was definitely wrong here! "Alright Chip," he said as he shut the door and locked it. "Lets have the whole story. Start at the beginning." Nelson sat down in his chair as Chip Morton began his explanation.

*******************

Captain Lee Benjamin Crane was way past angry, he was well on his way to outraged and seriously ticked off! Morton was going to pay for this in a major way! Plans for Mortonís demise danced through his head as he paced the small cell in which he had been so unceremoniously incarcerated. The bruise on his cheek was tender where he had been cuffed when he resisted arrest and his wrists were red and chafed where the handcuffs had been applied. He shouldnít have resisted so hard, but his frustration and temper had gotten the best of him and it took over. Then he took it out on the institute guards. Crane smiled to himself, as he took a certain amount of satisfaction in the fact that it took four of them to cuff him and put him in the patrol car.

What had he done to deserve this? The guard had told him that Commander Morton had ordered his detainment on espionage charges. Morton had ordered his arrest. Suddenly, his stomach tied into a knot. What if Chip really did believe that he was part of the enemy agentís attack on Seaview? He sank down suddenly on the small bunk as his legs went suddenly weak. The cell was dark now, and he was alone in the small cellblock on the institute grounds.

Leeís anger was gone now and was replaced with loneliness and despair. If Chip suspected him of espionage then their friendship was over. Chip and the Admiral would see him as a failure and worse yet, a traitor to his country and to the trust they had put in him. In addition, his chances of ever have of getting his own command again we gone. Once this kind of thing got out his career was over.

In the darkening cell he scooted back on the bed until his back rested against the wall. It was a warm evening and the cool of the cinderblock wall was pleasant against his back. He pulled his knees up to his chest and rested his arms on his knees. Well, thereís always home, he thought sarcastically. Lee hadnít been home in several years. His heavy load of responsibilities aboard Seaview had been a mixed blessing, since his mother didnít approve of his service on Seaview and was not shy about voicing her disapproval at every opportunity. Mrs. Crane felt he would be much better served in the family business. Better yet, married to a nice well-bred girl that would be willing to provide his mother with lots of babies to spoil. Quickly discarding the idea of home as a viable alternative, his head fell forward to his arms as sleep gently wove its dark web around him.

********************

After explaining to Admiral Nelson what he knew of Craneís resignation and his request for re-activation of his commission in the Navy. Chip watched the Nelson for any sign of remorse or guilt over approving the resignation of his Captain in the first place, and that of one of his closest friends. However, much to Morton's suprise there was none; just grim determination to remedy the situation.

Nelson leaned on his desk while he listed carefully as Chip Morton finished his story. As Chip finished, Nelson signed deeply and walking to the large window facing the ocean and stood there rubbing the back of his neck with his left hand. Morton noted that he had seen his superior do the same thing on Seaview on mission where they faced a serious problem. Admiral Nelson stood there for quite a while; seemingly deep in thought. Chip had been with the Admiral long enough to know to be patient and wait. Lee had always said that he could almost hear the wheels turning when Nelson was in this kind of thoughtful frame of mind. It usually meant he had something vitally important on his mind and needed to work it out.

Sighing deeply, Nelson turned to Chip and asked, "Chip did Lee say where he was going?"

"No sir he didnít," Morton replied to his superior. He glanced around the room unwilling to meet the Admiralís gaze. He knew he was going to have make a clean slate of it sooner or later. He had done it for Leeís own good. If Lee had gotten off Institute grounds they would have never seen him again! Surely, his superior would understand that! More importantly, he sincerely hoped that Lee would understand.

"Chip do you have any idea where he might have gone?" the Admiral asked. Crane was a fine sub captain and a good friend; the admiral was fonder of him that he was comfortable revealing to others. Crane had become the son he would never have. He was proud of his achievements and proud to have him as Captain of his famous submarine.

"Yes, yes admiral I have a very good idea where he is," Morton confessed as he shifted from side to side nervously.

************************

It was early morning when Nelson entered the security facility on the Institute grounds. He was flanked by an extremely nervous Chip Morton. Chip had explained to Nelson his reasons for having Crane detained. The Admiral understood the motivation, but not the method. Lee would be furious especially in light of their suspicions of him during this last mission. Morton was right to be nervous; Lee had had all night to contemplate his revenge.

As Nelson approached the watch officer's desk he felt guilty. He had no idea that Crane was so upset. He shouldnít have rushed off to Washington so quickly after the mission. He should have known that Lee was not all right. Perhaps this whole episode could have been avoided if he had not gone to Washington at all; he could have sent someone else in his place.

As the watch officer led them to Leeís holding cell he cast a furtive glance at Morton. Chip was pale and he was fidgeting with his cap in his hands. Nelson was impressed by the amount of sincere concern in the young manís blue eyes. He immediately regretted coming down so hard on the young officer. He was, after all, trying to help, and like himself, had no idea how seriously Lee took their recent attempts to "crack" him during this last mission.

As they approached the darkened cell he could see the lone figure sitting on the small bunk. His head was resting on his forearms and he appeared to be asleep. Nelson had seem him do this before while on dangerous mission or in times of great stress. Places Nelson thought, where he didnít feel he could let his guard down, places where he wasnít safe. Nelson came to a decision.

At the approach of footsteps Crane's head came up and he started to rise from the bunk. He movements were slow and stiff. Though, when he saw who his visitors were, Crane straightened quickly, his shoulders pushed firmly back, he stood firmly at attention in front of his superior officer. Shit! Nelson thought vehemently. He hated when Lee went Navy on him.

They had worked together since Crane had replaced John Phillips, who had been killed in the line of duty. Since, they had become close friends. Their personalities complemented each other and they worked closely together on many vital missions. Yet, Crane refused to use the Admiralís first name, even in private. His Navy training was too deeply ingrained and his respect for the Admiral too great. In situations where he was uncomfortable, he reverted back to his naval discipline, the walls went up and he became all naval discipline. He could strangle Morton. As he cast a reproachful glance at the Lt. Commander , Chip suddenly found something fascinating to look at on his coat sleeve.

Admiral Harriman Nelson looked to his left and indicated that the guard should open the cell door. When he stepped into the cell he noticed that Crane held himself at attention by force of will. The effort was obviously costing him. There was a large bruise purpling on his cheek and he moved stiffly as if he had been in a fight. Nelson suddenly realized that Crane was the man being detained as he entered the Institute grounds earlier. He suppressed a small smile of pride on behalf of his young Captain, it must have been quite a fight!. Four to one odds and two of the guards were still in sickbay.

"At ease Captain," Nelson said tersely. He watched with satisfaction as Crane relaxed, but remained at attention. He turned to the guard and said, "Captain Crane will be released into my custody , right?"

"Yes sir," the guard said quickly. He stepped back purposefully to allow Crane to pass unhindered. He had no intention of messing around with the guys from ships services. Where they went trouble followed! The guard knew when he saw the Captain of the Seaview in his stockade that he wouldnít be there long. He would have been bailed out, one way or another. Capt. Crane was a very popular officer at the institute and by now his arrest was well known. In a facility like this one gossip traveled like lightening.

Nelson cast a glance at Crane and said, "Captain, if youíll be so good as to accompany myself and Lt. Commander Morton, Iím sure we have a great deal to discuss."

For a moment Crane didnít move, he looked from Nelson to Morton quickly. Suspicious, not really knowing what to expect from his two fellow officers.

Morton seemed to understand his hesitation, he stepped forward and placed a hand on Leeís shoulder and said, "Lee, Iím sorry this whole mess, its my fault. I ordered your arrest..." But before he could finish his sentence Crane cut him off with a single glance. It was pure ice.

**************************

The drive from the stockade back to NIMR offices was uncomfortable and quiet. Morton stared out the window studiously, avoiding his friends hostile gaze. Wondering how he was ever going to get Lee to understand. Chip was very fond of Crane, their friendship meant alot to him, but more importantly, he was Captain Lee Craneís exec. That meant a lot of things but, it especially meant keeping your superior officer from doing really stupid things, on the ship and off! Crane tended to internalize things, to blame himself personally when things went wrong. Just as he was blaming himself now, his perception of the crewís lack of confidence in their Captain.

As the car came to a slow halt outside the large building that housed the offices of the NIMR the men of the Seaview climbed out and walked quickly through the dark into the well-lighted building. The institute never completely closed. There was always someone at NIMR either monitoring various high profile research studies or participating in them.

Once safely ensconced in Nelsonís office the admiral motioned for both men to be seated. He walked with purpose behind his desk and opened the bottom drawer. As he opened the drawer he sat down and pulled out a bottle of Glen Livet and three paper cups. He stood, and as he moved to hand the cups to his junior officers he motioned to Morton to stay seated. This was going to be informal, if they were to keep what they had worked to so hard to forge; then this whole issue would have to be sorted out tonight, before any of them left this office.

Nelson handed a cup to Morton and a cup filled to the brim, to Crane. Lee hesitated, not sure what was going on.

"Well go ahead Lee, take it, it wonít bite you," Nelson said with a small smile. Nelson was pleased when Crane took the paper cup of scotch and took a large sip. This was going to be easier than he anticipated.

"Alright Lee, lets hear it," Nelson said as he loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button on his dress blues. He leaned back onto his desk, half sitting on it.

"Admiral Nelson, what is this all about sir? You know that I have resigned from NIMR. The approval of my resignation came through this morning!" Lee said in an impatient voice. He wasnít going to bring up his incarceration just yet. Not until he understood what was going on.

"Lee, I did approve your resignation. For about one hour, then I cancelled the approval. The temporary secretary filling in for Angie must have sent the approval out without my knowledgeÖ. Why Lad? Why would you give up Seaview?" Nelson asked in an urgent voice leaning forward to place emphasis on his words.

Crane wished he had eaten dinner, or even lunch for that matter. The liquor was beginning to affect him. He was beginning to relax despite his anger. Warmth began to spread over his body. It wasnít an altogether unpleasant feeling.

"Its over Admiral, the crew of Seaview know you donít trust me. This last cruise shook their confidence in me. How can I expect them to follow my orders? How them to trust me when you donít. They have seen you countermand my orders," Lee asked, as he rubbed his eyes tiredly with his left hand, while Nelson stepped forward casually and refilled the drink in his right.

"Lee, the crew understands exactly what happened on this last cruise. I really donít think youíre giving the men enough credit," Nelson said calmly as he glanced quickly at Morton and sat the bottle of scotch down. Morton quickly poured his drink into the potted plant to his right. It was a crying shame to do that to good scotch! He needed to have a clear head, this was too important.

Lee had finished the second rather large paper cup of liquor and he was feeling the effects now. Inhibition diminished, but not gone, his anger started to come to the surface, "Why? Couldnít you think of a better way to find out who the enemy agent was?" Lee sat the paper cup firmly on Nelsons desk and went on, "Harriman, when you were suspected of selling the locations of our missiles to the enemy to save Edithís life, I trusted you, I gave you the benefit of a doubt!" he said vehemently. Lee stopped himself before he said anything he was sure to regret. He realized he was still pretty angry about the whole episode. He had tried to let it go, after all it was nothing personal, but still...

Nelson listened carefully to what Crane had said. Crane had never used his first name before. It was a testament to Craneís anger and disappointment in him. Lee was right, but he was under orders from the Pentagon, and the security of the mission was at stake. His error, Nelson realized, was that he had immediately taken the Generalís word that Crane was the imposter, never considering once that the General might be wrong. It was very nearly a fatal error on his part. Lee had nearly been killed twice.

Seeing no response from the Admiral, Crane turned his wrath on his friend. He turned to Morton. Chip seeing that the tide of Craneís hostility was about to turn his way, tried to head off the explosion.

"Ok so I had you arrested," Morton intervened, "Itís not really such a big deal is it? There were no charges filed Lee!" Chip put his hands out in front of him in supplication as he went on explaining in an effort to head off any impending plan of revenge that his friend might have hatched.

Captain Lee Crane looked from one friend to the other. Nelson still hadnít said anything, he seemed to be lost in thought, and Morton was still talking, rather quickly in fact. Trying to dig himself out of the hole he had dug for himself with Crane. Lee quickly realized that his arrest was just Mortonís way to prevent his leaving the institute until this whole matter could be worked out. There were no charges of espionage and he still had Chip and the Admiralís affection and trust. They were still friends! Crane sank back suddenly in his chair in relief. The situation was almost funny. Chip was still babbling away trying to explain himself and the more Chip tried to explain the harder it was to keep the smile from Leeís face.

Just venting his anger had seemed to help, although Lee realized with amusement, it could also be the affects to two stiff glasses of scotch on an empty stomach or the fight with the security guards who had taken the brunt of his anger. Nelson had set him up, he saw it now. The look on the Admiralís face, as Lee began to chuckle, revealed his devious machinations to the Captain. He was outflanked, he knew it. It hadnít been the Admiral or Chip that had suspected him, but the Pentagon. His friends were just following orders. Besides that, he was going to enjoy getting even with Chip for this stunt. Chip's paranoia seemed to be mounting by the hour!

As Crane started to laugh to himself, Chip ceased his explanation. A mortally offended expression appeared on his face. A glance from Nelson confirmed his instinct to allow Lee let it out. Besides, if Crane was laughing that meant he was coming around.

Slowly, the laughter that had overcome their Captain stopped and the Navy took over again. He turned to his commanding officer.

"Admiral are you saying you never officially approved my resignation? Lee asked earnestly, meeting the admiralís ice blue gaze. The approval of his resignation had seemed to confirm his instinct that resignation from the sub was the only alternative and the correct decision on his part by the admiral.

"No lad I didnít. What makes you think I would approve it anyway?" Nelson said gruffly; shaking his head as he finished the last of the scotch in his glass. The affair had been a paperwork snafu that could be easily cleaned up, Harriman Nelson thought to himself.

Lee sat back in his chair in relief as he realized he was still Captain of the grey enchantress in his life. For now, the only important thing to him was that he would be staying on Seaview. However, he seemed to be having trouble concentrating and his lack of sleep was catching up to him.

Chip Morton studied his Captain; Lee seemed much more at ease now, in fact he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open. Chip smiled to himself, if they didnít do something soon Crane would be asleep in his chair. Chip estimated that Crane had drank what would be in a restaurant or pub 5 or 6 glasses of scotch in the two paper cups that the admiral had plied him with.

Chip rose from his chair and got an arm under his friendís shoulders and despite Craneís objections got him settled on the Admirals large overstuffed couch. Lee dosed off quickly into a deep slumber. The large sofa was used frequently by the Admiral when he worked late into the night and was too tired to go home. Chip and the Admiral returned to their seats and refilled their glasses. Now they could enjoy the 12 year old scotch in a small celebration. Tomorrow when Crane awoke Seaview would still have her Captain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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