A second season story taking place the first week of December...  For Sue, who asked for a “good holiday tear jerker”... hope this qualifies!



And A Child Shall Lead Them


by Lynn



The day had started out so good, he thought silently as he lay flat on his back watching the clouds move before him in a most mesmerizing fashion.  In fact, it wasn't just the day that had been so nice but the last three months, he silently mused.  Seaview's command team hadn't been shot, stabbed, beat up or suffered more than the occasional rock and roll bruise in a whole three months... he added in humorous sarcasm.  Well, he corrected himself, Captain Crane did have to spend several hours on an IV recently, but other than that and a need for a good meal he had fared pretty well after his mishap on the island.*  Just then a painful breath broke his reverie as a moan escaped.  The pain bringing him back to the reason he was lying on the wet grass admiring the interesting cloud patterns instead of seriously trying to find a way out of the predicament he now found himself in.  Another moan, not his own, caused him to focus and gaze toward the second occupant of the demised car as the blood running down Admiral Harriman Nelson's white pallored face brought him back to reality.  


Must be the concussion, he thought reaching for his aching head.  Here he was finding cute bunny rabbit patterns in the sky and the Admiral was lying there needing his help!  Lt. Commander William Jamieson, fondly dubbed “Jamie” by Seaview's Captain Lee Crane, maneuvered himself over on his side as a new wave of nausea sprung up.  He had already lost his breakfast getting this far so no doubt a nice little battle with dry heaves now awaited him.  He stopped his movement to allow the nausea to pass as his head pounded nicely in synch with his heartbeat.  Only a few more feet.  It had taken him some effort to crawl this far, after he inadvertently discovered that his equilibrium was totally out of whack and stumbled, falling hard.  So hard that he'd been staring up at the sky in la-la land for so long that he'd even forgotten about Harry, the tire blow-out and the car's twenty foot dive down the gully.  He woke up still strapped into his seat belt but his head had suffered a side impact on the car window, hence the blood on his face and the concussion to go with it.  Harry however, had been thrown from the driver's side of the sedan issued by the Nelson Institute of Marine Research's motor pool and had subsequently suffered far more damaged. 


Harry moaned again as Jamie crawled the remainder of the two feet he lacked to reach his commanding officer's side.




No response.  Not good, he thought thinking in very short sentences as he tried to rouse the normally resilient and full of life admiral.  Both their khaki service dress uniforms were dirty and soiled but the blood on Harry's uniform far exceeded even the blood on Jamie's collar from his head wound.  Everyone knows head wounds bleed a lot so that answered for some of the blood on Harry's shirt, but the blossom of red on Harry's side didn't look good.


“Admiral?”  Jamie tried again, having finally gotten close enough to feel Harry's face.  He was relieved that Harry didn't appear to be in shock and quickly sat up... Okay, “quick” was a bad idea... he amended to himself as a new wave of dizziness had him seeing white spots at his peripheral vision.  He waited for the world to come back into focus and then slowly unbuttoned his service jacket and shrugged it off with considerable effort placing it over the unconscious Admiral.  The effort spent him as he leaned forward, sinking heavily to the ground beside his commanding officer and friend, but before the darkness took him completely he caught a glimpse of something out of place.  His head dropped slowly to the ground as he stared out about ten yards beyond him trying to make sense of the small child with red flowing hair watching him.  She made no attempt to move forward and her facial expression seemed rather odd considering the fact that she was watching two men lying on the ground near a wrecked automobile.  His eyes fluttered closed as he wondered if he should add hallucinations to his list of concussion symptoms.


* * * * *


“Good morning, Miss Watson.”


Angie raised her head and greeted the warm smile and equally warm blue eyes of Stan Dryer, NIMR's resident handyman. 


“Good morning Stan,” she returned with her always professional demeanor and smile.  Her above the shoulder brown hair was styled perfectly and as always she never looked disheveled or flustered as she went about her duties as Admiral Harriman Nelson's Personal Assistant.  She was widely known as the glue behind the Institute's inner workings, keeping things running smoothly even when the Admiral was away at sea for weeks or months at a time.  Of course, the new Flying Sub had alleviated some problems regarding his extended absences from the daily running of the Institute, but the brunt of the work still fell upon his efficient assistant.  Stan was fully aware of her importance in running the Institute, the fact that her office sported a veranda with an ocean view accentuated the point nicely.


The phone rang, interrupting their conversation as Angie smiled and reached for the receiver.


“Excuse me, Stan.  I'm expecting a very important call,” she explained politely, answering the phone and drawing a pad of paper closer.


“Admiral Nelson's office, this is Miss Watson.  Can I help you?...  Yes, good morning...”


Stan gazed downward, rocking slightly back on his heels in an unconscious move.  He raised his eyes cautiously taking in the graceful movements of the dark haired beauty as she jotted notes at her well organized desk.  Her brown outfit, a suede jacket and skirt ensemble, was the perfect blend of stylish professionalism and yet true femininity with its tapered tailored fit.  It was really hard not to notice Angie Watson.  She was so perfect, like a china doll.  Her milky white complexion offered a bold contrast to her dark brown hair.  Perfection.  That's all he could say, though he'd never say these things to her.  What would a perfectly polished, professional and smart girl like her want with a guy like him?  He wasn't ashamed of being a Maintenance Technician III, that was NIMR's fancy title for Handyman.  He was a whiz with tools and sported a high aptitude for all things mechanical.  In short, he could fix anything.   But really, he was way more comfortable in his jeans and long sleeve work shirt, always tucked in and always professional but way too much of a contrast to the suit, ties and military uniforms that surrounded her in this extremely professional office, he reasoned silently with a hint of self-degradation. 


He quickly diverted his eyes away as it appeared the phone call was coming to an end.


“Yes... I'll take care of it right away...  Thank you and good day to you as well,” she added as she hung up the phone and raised her eyes back to the handyman waiting patiently before her.


“Now where were we?” she asked pleasantly.


“I'm here about the electrical problem in the Admiral's office,” Stan said, getting down to business and looking toward the Admiral's opened door to keep from gazing too deeply into her beautiful hazel eyes, more brown than green he thought but the coloring was alluring.


“Yes,” she answered as she rose from her chair, taking with her a small control box on the desk beside her as she proceeded to guide Stan to Harry's empty office.  “The electric screen isn't lowering properly and we really could use a light dimmer in here to use in conjunction with the projector,” she explained, clicking the various buttons on her remote, demonstrating the functions as she spoke.


“I can handle both of those issues,” Stan said with a shy smile.


“Great!  Take all the time you need, the Admiral will be away from the office all day.”


“That shouldn't be a problem,” Stan returned as she smiled and handed him the control box, their hands briefly touching in the process.  He kept his face even, but inside it was like an electric jolt.  Calm down Stan, you're out of your league, he thought as he returned her polite smile. 


“Thanks Stan,” she said over her shoulder as she moved toward the door.  He resisted watching her exit and instead carried his tool box to the wall housing the electrical wiring and began trouble shooting the problem.


* * * * *


Angie stepped out of Harry's office and turned slightly, stealing a second look at Stan Dryer.  He was handsome in a rugged sort of way and his blue jeans fit nicely over what she perceived to be a sculptured body.  She was sure by the fit of his shirt and rolled up sleeves that he sported a washboard stomach... she decided she better leave before her imagination took her any further.  She walked to her desk still thinking about the skilled handyman working in the Admiral's office.  By his glowing California tan she deduced that he spent a fair amount of time outdoors, though his blond hair wasn't bleached by the sun so she figured he wasn't a beach bum or surfer... but definitely an outdoors man, perhaps a woodsman or camper. 


Come on Angie, what are you thinking about?  She chided herself silently.  You don't know the first thing about camping, hunting, or hiking.  You probably have nothing in common and the guy never even looks you in the eye.  He's not interested.  She sighed and expelled a cleansing breath returning to her work at hand.  She had a lot to do to prepare the Institute for the coming holidays.  She had already ordered the classic and elegant white lights to garnish every fica tree in the building as well as the fir garlands that wrapped around the banister of the grand stairway in the foyer.  The tree had been delivered... now if she could just locate the life size manger scene.  Harry had paid an arm and a leg for it and she couldn't for the life of her understand why it wasn't where she last inventoried it.


The actual decorating was left to others, but she carried the task of making sure that the Institute was properly decorated to present good taste and still reflect the joy of the season.   She added the responsibility to her regular work load and carried on quite used to multitasking and still finishing the job efficiently.  She was so engrossed in her work that she didn't notice the light that glowed in the corner or the small child that appeared, her long flowing red hair lying past her shoulders and down her back.  The child looked first at Angie and then through the open door toward Stan.  She smiled knowingly and giggled, nodding as if to silent instructions, then faded without anyone noticing.


* * * * *


Lee Crane blew out a subdued airy whistle between his teeth as he examined the solitaire diamond engagement ring.


“That's some rock.  When are you going to pop the question?” He asked, snapping the velvet box closed and placing it in the middle of the table.  Chip reached for the ring box, placing it carefully back into his service jacket pocket.


“I don't know.  The timing has to be right,” he answered hesitantly as Lee suppressed a smirk. 


“You are going to ask her?” Lee asked rhetorically, knowing that Chip was as nervous as he had ever seen him, rivaling even the first time they “took the Con” on their first training exercise on board the Cruiser when they were Midshipmen at Annapolis.


“Of course I am, I bought the ring didn't I?  The timing just has to be right, that's all,” Chip returned, picking up his menu and looking it over for the fifteenth time, but his clever diversion tactic didn't deter Lee one bit as he ratcheted up the needling of his best friend.


“If you wait too long some other guy...” that's as far as he got as Chip's head popped up from behind the menu, his eyes mirroring the classic look of a deer caught in headlights on a dark night.  Lee's smile eased his concerns immediately as Chip broke out in that winning smile that lit up his blue eyes, realizing that he'd been royally had as Lee milked out his obvious anxiousness about asking Monica Felton to marry him.


“I'm just kidding,” Lee said sincerely and smiling honestly.  “She's in love with you Chip, she'll say yes,” he assured his ever efficient XO.  Chip's familiar confident demeanor returned as they exchanged wordless glances that spoke volumes as their brother-like connection said everything that needed to be said silently.


Lee broke the moment looking down at his watch once again.  Harry and Jamie were nearly thirty minutes late, not at all like the Admiral whose efficient sense of timeliness could rival an atomic clock.  Lee sighed and shook his head, deciding his next course of action. 


“I'm going to make another call to the Institute.  Maybe the Admiral's checked in with an update on his ETA.”


Chip nodded in agreement.  Chip and Lee had driven ahead of Harry and Jamie to Monterey, a nearly four hour drive that couldn't be avoided as a rather large invasion of sea lions in the bay had deterred their plans to fly FS1 in.**  The four were planning to meet for lunch and then visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium where details of a joint project with Seaview would be hammered out; their need for two cars necessitated by an evening meeting in which Chip and Jamie's presence wasn't required.  


“Good idea,” Chip agreed as Lee left for the phone booth in the restaurant’s lobby.


Chip felt inside his pocket caressing the velvet ring box beneath his fingers.  He pulled the box out and opened it gazing down and thinking of the woman who had his heart so messed up he couldn't sleep at night.  Lee had pegged it right on the island, just before he was arrested for espionage.*  Chip had actually lost his appetite, losing enough weight to even be noticed by his captain and best friend.  He was contemplating popping the question even though they had only been dating a few months, but Lee's treatment at the hands of Major Raatu had left his best friend severely dehydrated and half-starved as they tried to coerce a confession out of him.  Chip had been given unspoken and very unofficial orders to retrieve Lee, the whole experience only three weeks old.  The timing just wasn't right.


Now last night... last night would have been perfect.  He had taken her out for dinner and dancing and as he gazed into her eyes he knew she was the one.  A man just knows, he thought silently.  He was more than sure what her answer would be, Monica was classy but her eyes gave away her love though neither one had declared it yet.  He wasn't nervous about asking Monica, but he was from the old school of chivalry and decorum; a rare breed these days that lived by the time honored tradition of asking a father permission before approaching his would-be bride.  The thought terrified Chip, not something Seaview's XO felt often even when the hull of their submarine was being bullied by some two headed deep sea creature, but this was a whole new ball game...


“That sure is a pretty ring mister.”


Chip's inner musing was interrupted by a pretty little red-headed girl standing at his table and looking with awe at the diamond solitaire glittering and catching the light with every small movement of Chip's hand. 


Chip smiled.  “Well not as pretty as you are,” he answered back sweetly, wondering which table she had wandered away from.


Her innocent giggle brought a sincere smile to his face as she continued to eye the ring.  “I bet she's real pretty too,” the young girl said confidently.  “What's her name?  I bet you reallllly like her to pick such a big ring.”


Chip couldn't help but chuckle at the talkative if not forward child, but answered her probing questions just the same. 


“Her name is Monica...”


“Oh, I like that name,” she exclaimed but continued without taking a breath.  “Are you gonna ask her daddy for permishun?  'Cause my Daddy says that's the way a real gentleman should be.  He says that some people think its old fashun but that's okay 'cause He's an old fashun type of Daddy and you know what?  I'm five and a half and I'm going to be six years old soon!” She added changing the subject as quickly as the thought occurred to her.


Chip laughed, “I'm old fashion too, and yes, I am going to ask her Daddy.”


“That's good 'cause you look good in a tie and I think her daddy will say yes because I think you're nice.  My Daddy says I'm good at noticing nice people.”


Chip smiled and looked around.  “Where are your parents honey?”


“My Daddy's watching over me.  I gotta go now.  Bye mister!”


She waved her goodbye as Chip smiled and sat back in his chair with a light chuckle.  Well that settles it, he thought.  After all, if a five-and-a-half year old was brave enough to ask a total stranger those questions, surely he could talk to Ryan Felton... besides it was official... he was just certified as a nice guy.  His inward chuckle was interrupted with Lee's return to the table.


“Who was the little girl?” Lee asked distractedly.


“Beats me, but she pretty much told me how 'nice gentlemen' go about getting hitched,” Chip replied more relaxed than he'd been for several weeks.  “What did you find out?” He asked changing the subject and recognizing the concern on Lee's face.


“They left on time.  Angie's trying to raise the Admiral by the satellite phone.  She'll call me back in a few minutes.”


“But you're still worried?”


Lee nodded, pursing his bottom lip as Chip recognized the familiar move when Lee was in deep thought.


“She already tried calling with me on hold and got nothing.  The phone is ringing, but nobody's answering,” he finished, his concern etched deeper into the lines of his forehead.  They sat for a few minutes watching the sidewalk for Harry and Jamie to come waltzing in with some adventure to tell that would innocently explain their tardiness.  They would all have a laugh, a hardy lunch and still have time to make their 1430 appointment at the Aquarium.


“Captain Crane?  The call you're waiting for is ready,” the waitress offered taking in the handsome officers in their full service dress uniforms and trying hard not to drool in the process.


“Thank you,” he said rising to follow.


“Let's hope Angie has good news,” Lee said leaning toward Chip just before following the waitress back to the lobby.


* * * * *  


Jamie rolled to his back and found the clouds once again, but this time he didn't get lost in the cumulus wonders and instead worked to steady himself.  He could hear an occasional car pass on Hwy 101 but no one seemed to notice the car below.  The road had been empty when their tire blew out and apparently the highway patrol hadn't found any evidence of the wreck yet.  In short, no one knew they were here except the little red-headed girl.  Jamie amended that thought as they were at least twenty feet below the road with nothing between them and the vast wilderness of the Los Padres National forest.  Must have been hallucinating, he surmised. 


His equilibrium returned enough for him to roll to his side and push up.  He was happy to note that he was able to move this time without getting nauseas but continued slow and steady nonetheless.  Jamie reached for Harry's face and sighed in relief, Good, still no signs of shock.  He took Harry's pulse trying to get what vitals he could and found a steady beat, then raised his eyelids to see pupils that probably matched his own, unequal in size denoting a concussion.  Next, he needed to know what was happening under that blossom of blood on Harry's side.  Jamie moved carefully trying to sit up but abandoned the move as he lowered his head back to the ground.  After a moment he tried again, finally maneuvering himself into a full sitting position.  He removed his jacket, now serving as Harry's blanket and proceeded to unbutton the Admiral's shirt.  Slowly he parted the shirt and noted that Harry's head tilted from one side to the other, but didn't wake.  At least he isn't comatose, Jamie thought as he pulled his clean handkerchief from his pocket and softly patted away excess blood until he could see the shard of glass protruding from Harry's side.  Too dangerous to remove and the bleeding had slowed down considerably, it was best not to treat the wound until it could be dealt with properly, he decided.  Carefully he maneuvered himself down to pat Harry's legs, finding them sound, but the movement was doing him in so he replaced the jacket over Harry and retreated to the ground to rein in the increasing nausea and dizziness threatening to move into full force.


Jamie breathed deeply allowing the fresh air to revitalize him and silently wondered how Lee Crane managed to continue to ignore the physical symptoms of a concussion enough to stay at the Con until he was finally ordered to Sickbay.  It must be a spy thing, he joked to himself, but figured it was just plain stubborn will power.  If that was the case why couldn't he invoke some of that stubbornness now and take care of the Admiral... climb for help... or do something besides examining the puffy dragon patterns now forming in the sky? He thought in exasperation. 


Just then he heard a faint buzzing sound.  Was it ringing in his ears? He wondered when he couldn't deduce the direction of the noise.   Then he caught it again as the faint noise was clearly heard some twenty feet away inside the car.  The SAT phone!  Oh that blessed SAT phone, he thought as he rolled over and crawled toward the buzzing sound. 


“NO!  Not now,” he rebuked out loud trying to will down the nausea, but was unsuccessful as a round of dry heaves greeted him violently.  His stomach was empty as he wretched green stomach bile up and fell to the ground completely as a wave of cold sweat enveloped him.  From his position he could see the car as the buzzing sound stopped and everything went silent, save for the sounds of passing cars up above.  They were so close to rescue, if only he could do something besides vomit and faint, he chided himself cruelly. 


Jamie squeezed his eyes shut and then opened them when he heard a sound; the little red-headed girl had returned.  She smiled as if to reassure him, but Jamie's eyes fluttered closed completely against his will as he blacked out once again.


* * * * *

(Scene fills in details just before Lee calls Angie and continues, catching up with the timeline...)


Angie typed away at her computer.  Unlike most offices of the day, NIMR didn't use the “typewriter” word-processors, but sported a micro-computer tied into the NIMR mainframe and utilized the latest in software technology, Electric Pencil.**  It was definitely the latest in office innovations and had greatly improved the efficiency of the Institute's many secretaries and lab technicians.  She was deeply engrossed in the Admiral's latest scientific paper she was readying to submit to the Journals, and neither saw nor heard the little red-headed girl appear behind her.  The child smiled and drawing upon the powers granted her, watched as the fica tree lights blinked out along with the festive garland lights draping the walls.  The little girl suppressed her laughter and faded away as Angie's head raised, responding immediately to the lights blinking off.


“Now what?” She stated incredulously.  Maintenance hung the lights over an hour ago and everything seemed fine then, she thought and rose to check the plug, pulling it out of the outlet and replacing the connection.  Still nothing. 


“Stan?” She said walking into Harry's office and finding the Handyman putting the finishing touches on his project.


Stan turned toward her inquisitively, as Angie swallowed back a silent “Oh my!”  His face was relaxed as he was totally in his element with the repair and his handsome features were quite noticeable.


“Yes, Miss Watson?”


She offered a small smile as she spoke.  “It looks like you're done already?”  She added lamely and berated herself silently for her lack of ability to say something a bit more clever.


“Yes Ma'am,” he replied picking up the control box and walking toward her, demonstrating both the screen lowering properly and the new light dimmer he had installed.


Ma'am? she thought, she really ought to invite him to call her “Angie” but ignored her thought retreating instead to the problem at hand, as she tried to dispel the butterflies of having the rugged handyman standing so close to her.


“That's wonderful, thank you Stan.  If you wouldn't mind, we seem to have developed a new problem in my office.  Could it be related to the work you just did in here?” She asked returning to her very professional tone of voice, polite but to the point.


“I don't see how, but I'll look into it,” he promised and turned to retrieve his toolbox.


“Thanks.  I'm sure it's just a strange coincidence,” Angie amended, she hadn't meant to insinuate that the efficient Handyman had caused the problem.  What's wrong with you Angelica?  She asked herself, using her full name as she silently wondered why Stan Dryer had her so uncharacteristically flustered.  She worked around an office of men all day long and between the Admiral, Captain Crane and Mr. Morton any girl could get giddy with an errant smile from any one of the three.  But she prided herself on her professionalism and never allowed their looks to interfere with her duties, indeed she expected to be treated with the same professionalism herself.  So why was the Handyman causing her to act like a fifteen year old girl dreaming of the boy sitting two chairs behind in math class?


Stan followed Angie out of the Admiral's office and moved to the outlet in question producing a voltage checker from his tool box as Angie retreated to her word processor to keep from watching him work.  The phone rang and she thankfully reached for it sliding back into her efficient role she wore so effortlessly.


“Admiral Nelson's office, this is Miss Watson, may I help you?  Hello Lee... Just a moment, I'll check with the motor pool.”


She placed the call on hold and dialed up the Motor Pool receiving her answer in short order as she took the call off hold.


“The Motor Pool says that they left at 0800 sharp.  Is there a problem?” She asked with a raised eyebrow. 


“Just a moment and I'll try to raise him on the SAT phone.”


Angie proceeded to dial up the Admiral's satellite phone allowing it to ring seven or eight times and then disconnected.  She sighed and dialed again, the innovation of the satellite phone was still four or five years from public use but Harry's military connections had afforded him the technology and he made good use of it when he could.  The phone was rather large and sported a long antenna that had to be pulled out of its telescoping position to use, and produced a buzzing sound to signal a call.  The second call didn't produce an answer either which concerned her.  If the Admiral was late, surely he would have contacted her with a revised ETA, Harry never tolerated tardiness and was himself never late without just and due cause.


“Lee?  I've dialed the SAT phone but I can't seem to reach him.  Let me check with the Receptionist and make sure there's not an undelivered message in her call log.”


Angie placed her call back on hold and dialed the Receptionist at the main switch board, that call also producing a dead end.


“I'm sorry Lee, there's no message from the Admiral.  Why don't I try the SAT phone again in a few minutes and I'll get back with you?”  She offered, hating to keep placing Seaview's Captain on hold.  She jotted down the phone number at Paulie's Sea Food Grotto at the Fisherman's Wharf on the historic pier.  “Okay, I'll call you back in a few minutes,” she promised and hung up.


“Trouble Miss Watson?”  Stan asked watching her concerned facial expression.


“Could be, Admiral Nelson is late for his lunch appointment,” she stated absent-mindly as she waited a few minutes before trying the SAT phone again. 


“That does sound off.  You can usually set your watch by him,” Stan replied as Angie nodded her agreement and reached for the phone to try again.


The call didn't produce an answer, nor the subsequent call she made as she sighed in concern and dialed up the restaurant.  Stan returned to his work, completely mystified as to why the circuit worked for everything else but the lights.  He moved to the painstaking task of checking each bulb in the unlit strand to see which bulb was breaking the circuit.  As he worked, he couldn't help but notice Angie's concern and worry.  He wished he could do something to help, but continued his work when he heard Angie's call connect.


* * * * *


“Lee Crane,” Lee answered as he picked up the receiver and nodded his understanding.  “Okay Angie, call the Aquarium and send our regrets.  Chip and I will back track, they weren't planning any other stops along the way, perhaps they had car trouble,” he offered knowing the supposition was weak as it didn't answer why Harry wasn't answering the SAT phone.


“Would you like me to start a search on this end and meet in the middle?” She offered.


“That's a good idea.  Grab Chief Sharkey and a couple of Ratings from the maintenance crew aboard Seaview... Ski and Patterson if they're available,” Lee stopped to look out the window and noted the California fog rolling in.  “How's the weather out your way, can you get FS1 airborne?”


Angie turned and peered out her sliding glass door.  “It was perfectly sunny this morning, but the fog is rolling in.  I'll have Sharkey verify flight conditions.”


“Very well,” Lee took a deep breath in and spoke in all honesty not holding back any concern to the Admiral's PA.  She needed all the pieces of the puzzle to do her job.  “I think something's wrong Angie, he's an hour late and no word.  I think we need to assume the worst.  Check with the CHP for accidents and start a search through hospitals along Hwy 101.”


“Will do,” she added efficiently jotting down his instructions and a few more ideas she had for locating the Admiral and Doc Jamieson.


“Okay, let's connect again in an hour.  We'll call you in King City,” Lee said looking down at his watch and nodding at Angie's response.


“Very well, Crane out,” he answered in Captain mode and turned with purpose back to the table as Chip noticed Lee's concern immediately.


“She can't raise him.  We're going start a search pattern,” Lee said reaching for his bill fold and leaving a generous tip for occupying the table for the last hour as both officers grabbed their covers and headed for the door.  They paused momentarily as Lee studied the fog rolling in.


“Fog,” he stated with disgust.  “It started out so sunny today, I can't believe the fog is rolling in at mid-day,” he finished as they walked a fast pace from the pier to the car.


They tossed their covers in the back seat as Lee started to pull out and noticed Chip's little red-headed “friend” standing by the road.  Lee looked behind him to clear the traffic, wondering why such a little girl was seemingly all by herself, but by the time he turned around she was gone.  Good, he thought as he pulled out into traffic, he didn't have the luxury of time to make sure the little girl wasn't lost, but certainly would have taken the time if needed.  He was relieved that she was obviously in someone's care and made a U-turn heading back to Hwy 101.


* * * * *


“Why do you look so sad?”


The small little voice broke Jamie from his self-disparagement as he took another break trying to reach the car and more importantly, the SAT phone still buzzing occasionally.


“Do you live around here?” He asked believing that the little girl now sitting Indian style in between him and the car was indeed real and not a hallucination at all.


“Uh-uh, I live far away,” she answered tilting her head inquisitively.  “You keep saying a bad word,” she noted as Jamie bit his bottom lip sorry she heard him swear. 


“I'm sorry, but I need the phone inside the car.  Is there an adult, a big person with you?” He asked cautiously.


She shook her head in the negative as Jamie thought through his alternatives.  He could smell gasoline... there was no way he would ask the child to climb into the car, it was a miracle it hadn't burst into flames on the way down the gully.  


“Do you want me to get it?” She offered.


“No,” Jamie answered firmly.  “You need to stay away from the car, in fact let's both move back toward the Admiral,” Jamie said utilizing all his strength to move the girl to safety.  In the background he heard the SAT phone buzz but ignored it, knowing the little girl was too inquisitive and would follow him if he tried to retrieve it.  He reasoned that they were long overdue and that Captain Lee Crane had ordered an all-out search and rescue by now.  That would have to be good enough.  They made it back to Harry as the girl resumed her position sitting Indian-style on the opposite side of the Admiral. 


“He looks hurt,” she said and then raised her eyes to Jamie.  “Is that why you're so sad?”


Jamie looked into her eyes, “What's your name little one?” He asked kindly.


“I'm not supposed to tell strangers my name,” she recited dutifully as Jamie chuckled, apparently the little girl had missed the part about “not talking to strangers”.


“Alright, you don't have to tell me.  Yes, I'm worried about him, he needs help and I don't have the equipment to care for him.  And my head hurts too much to stand, so I can't go get help,” he answered in his “grandpa” voice he used for his own grandchildren.


“Could you go back to your family and tell them we're here?” He asked hopefully.


“My Daddy told me to stay riiight here,” she answered obediently as Jamie's hope shrunk.


“Okay sweetheart, my friends will be looking for us.  They'll find us soon,” he answered leaning over to recheck Harry's vitals.  Harry had stirred but hadn't been lucid in his few moments of consciousness, Jamie noted as his forehead crinkled in concern.


“Are you a doctor?  'Cause my Daddy's a doctor too!”  The girl stated proudly rocking side to side as she spoke.


“Yes, I'm a doctor,” Jamie answered growing very weary, he realized that he was ignoring his own good advice to rest as he was sure he was sporting a rather moderate concussion.


“And that's why you feel bad?  'Cause sometimes you can't help the people and make them better?”


Her precocious questions were annoyingly right-on as Jamie sighed and nodded.  Several cruises ago Seaview had suffered a diving accident when a crew member had been caught in the after effects of a sea quake.  He was subsequently buried in falling rocks from a sea mount they were collecting samples from, and by the time the rescue party freed him he was blue and unresponsive.  Jamie had worked hard and furiously trying to revive the young man but finally had to call his death.  He was so young... they're all so young, like babies... he thought distractedly.  He berated himself silently that for all his medical knowledge he couldn't save the young rating.  He died much too young...


“Would you like me to help?  'Cause I can sing a song and that will make him feel all better,” she proclaimed.


“Sure honey, you sing him a song, but sing quietly, I think he has a headache,” Jamie answered too tired to even try and figure out why a small child was out in the middle of nowhere like this.


“This little light of mine... I'm going to let it shine....” she sang as Jamie's eyes fluttered, he was getting extremely tired and lowered himself to his elbow when the little girl stopped her singing.


“You know what Doctor Jamie?” She said as Jamie's eyes tightened, did he tell her his name?


“What dear?”


She lowered her voice to a whisper and looked deep into his eyes, “My Daddy says that we just have to do the best we can do and let God do the rest... even though you're a doctor you could still pray.  My Daddy says that sometimes we don't get everything we want, but we have to 'cept that 'cause God knows best,” she stated as if telling Jamie a very important secret and then resumed her song.


“...let it shine, let it shine, let it shine...”


Jamie's head dropped to the ground wearily, contemplating the girl's wisdom.  Mourning the dead crewman had turned to self-contempt and disdain at his inability to save him; but was life and death truly in his hands, or was he merely the steward of the medical knowledge he possessed?  He realized that his skill could sustain life, but he could not prevent death... that responsibility didn't lie with him.  The thought was strangely reassuring as he closed his eyes, his need for sleep taking him away from his pounding headache.


The little girl smiled at the doctor who had finally given in to the needed rest and reached to touch the Admiral's feverish forehead, resuming her quiet song sung delightfully sweet and most definitely off-key.


“This little light of mine... I'm going to let it shine...” 


* * * * *


Angie had done everything she could do, called everyone she could call.  The California Highway Patrol hadn't investigated any crashes answering the Admiral's car description and the few hospitals along the way didn't have two John Does waiting to be claimed.  Chief Sharkey, Kowalski, Patterson and the new surfing loving kid, Stu Riley had left by way of a motor pool car as the fog had indeed rolled in making FS1's flight impossible.


She was lost in her thoughts, trying to think of some new angle she could approach the problem with when a cup of steaming hot coffee was placed in front of her.  Angie raised her eyes to meet Stan Dryer's.


“You look like you could use this,” he offered kindly.


Angie sighed.  “Thank you Stan, that's very kind of you,” she returned with a weak smile.  She reached for the cup and took a small sip, she really did need a break especially since she had hit a brick wall.


“No problem Miss Watson...”


“Please Stan, call me Angie,” she said without thought. 


“Okay... Angie,” Stan answered shyly taking a drink of his coffee as the phone rang and Angie reached for it assertively.


“Admiral Nelson's office,” she answered shortening her usual greeting in hopes of getting word from Lee.


“Oh yes... well... just keep looking for it, I'm sure you'll find it soon, it's in a rather large crate,” she answered and then hung up.  Now wasn't the time to be looking for the manger scene but she fully expected that when the Admiral was found he would appreciate the display in the main foyer to greet the employees and visitors to the Institute.


She reached for her coffee cup and realized that Stan had used cream and no sugar, exactly the way she took her coffee.


“This sure hits the spot.  Tell me Stan, how did you know how I liked my coffee?”


“I've seen you make it in the lunch room,” he replied, this time not diverting his eyes from her.  He smiled and she returned it as the phone rang again breaking their oh-so-short connection.


“Admiral Nelson's office,” she answered and was relieved this time to hear Lee's voice.


* * * * *


Lee and Chip drove an hour south to King City.  Lee had surrendered the driver's side to Chip so he could watch for any signs of an auto accident, perhaps one not reported.  Something... anything... skid marks, broken rails, fender pieces... anything, but so far had come up empty.  Upon arriving they stopped at a gas station as Lee jumped out, running to the pay phone and connecting to Angie's direct line, bypassing the Switchboard.


“Admiral Nelson's Office.” 


He heard Harry's efficient PA holding up under the pressure she no doubt felt as she tracked down all possible leads from her end.


“Angie, this is Lee.  Nothing on our end, what do you have?” He asked without any pleasantries.


“CHP reports no accidents or incidents involving our vehicle; I have a 'negative' on all hospitals and morgues along the route; FS1 is a no-go; and Sharkey and his team just reported in from Santa Maria with a 'negative' as well.”


“That makes sense,” Lee commented.  “That stretch of highway is well traveled.  It's got to be past San Luis Obispo, where the traffic thins out,” he reasoned.


“Okay Angie,” he continued.  “We'll keep going from our end, send Sharkey North,” he let out a weak chuckle meant to comfort her.  “Who knows, maybe we'll find them stranded with a flat tire and an equally flat spare,” he offered in way of explanation.  It wouldn't be the first time a motorist tried to change a flat and found their spare without air; but deep inside he didn't believe it and he knew Angie didn't either as that wouldn't explain why Harry hadn't utilized the SAT phone.


“Sharkey's already headed north, he'll keep checking in along the way.”


“Thanks Angie.  We'll find him,” he promised and hung up.  He took just a moment to contemplate their predicament as he held the phone on the receiver hook and leaned forward.  He raised his eyes and was surprised to see the same pretty little red-headed girl through the Plexiglas phone booth.  His eyebrows sharpened as he silently figured the odds of the girl's family traveling the same road and taking the same rest stop just an hour from their last stop.  He turned to open the bi-folding door behind him intending to visit with the girl, but upon exiting the phone booth he turned and stopped in his tracks.


There was no way she could have moved that fast, and where did she go? He questioned silently.  He didn't like it, something just wasn't right with her but he had other things to think about right now and shook off the mystery turning and jogging back to the car instead.  The fog was rolling in and if it got any thicker they might just miss the clues they needed to find Harry and Jamie.


* * * * *


Angie hung up the phone, staring ahead in deep thought.  Her attention was jolted back at the sound of metal clinking as Stan organized his tools.  The lights still weren't working so she knew he wasn't finished yet.  He turned back to her having moved his tools out of the way and smiled shyly.  She was starting to appreciate that smile and noticed the slight dimples in his smile lines, they were appealing... sexy even. 


“Miss Watson... I mean Angie,” he said correcting himself.  “I need to grab a sandwich from the lunch room, can I bring something for you?  I mean I know you can't leave the office right now,” he clarified.  It was nearly three o'clock and Angie hadn't noticed how hungry she was until Stan mentioned it.


“You wouldn't mind picking something up for me?” She asked cautiously.


“I'd be happy to.  I'll be back up in a little bit,” he added with a smile, clearly pleased he could help and left with light content steps.


Angie smiled despite the current situation, but suppressed it back as her smile faded.  She stood and turned toward her veranda watching the soupy California fog enveloping the beach below wondering not for the first time, just where was Admiral Nelson.


* * * * *


Stan entered the lunch room and walked toward the refrigerator that housed the fresh sandwiches made daily for the employees to purchase.  The snack bar was closed at this hour so this would have to do.  He reached for his choice, roast beef on a hearty sourdough bun and realized that he hadn't asked Angie what she preferred.  Come on Stan, think!  You've had to have seen her lunch tray at some point, he thought trying to will his mind to dredge up any memory that would tell him what to bring the pretty secretary.  Truth be told he wasn't noticing her tray all those times he sat in the corner and secretly admired Angie Watson.


“She likes turkey on whole wheat bread and a cup of fruit,” was heard from behind him.  Stan turned, wondering which employee's child had wandered into the lunchroom, unsupervised no less.  Pretty red locks of long hair greeted him with equally pretty hazel green eyes.  She was quite young, probably only five years old.


“What was that honey?”


“Miss Angie likes turkey on whole wheat bread and a cup of fruit,” she repeated as Stan shifted to the opposite foot trying to figure out how the precocious child knew who he was buying lunch for.  But a good steer was a good steer so he nodded his thanks and reached back into the refrigerator to make his selection.  Stan turned back to thank the little girl but as quickly as she appeared she was gone.  He shrugged his shoulders and reached into his pocket leaving enough cash in the honor box to cover their lunches and left for her office. 


He didn't know why it was so important to please her... okay so he did know.  He really liked Angie Watson, she was bright, beautiful, caring... and so out of his league he couldn't possibly imagine her noticing him.  He sighed, reined it all back in and determined within himself to just be the helping hand she needed right now.  That would have to be enough, he determined and moved toward the elevators with his tray.


* * * * *


Angie smiled as Stan left the office.  He was so sweet and unpretentious, it really was refreshing and when their eyes met she thought she saw a genuine interest in her.   She picked up her mug and realized that it was empty and spotted Stan's empty cup as well.  She grabbed both mugs and headed for the kitchenette around the corner.  The kitchenette housed the coffee machine, a small sink and a refrigerator for the supplies she often needed for meetings.  A vending company kept her stocked in danishes and such and though she rarely indulged she thought a sugar lift might be just the thing they needed.  She reached for her favorite, a cheese danish and then wondered silently what Stan might like.


“He likes the cinnamon rolls,” she heard from behind her and turned toward the child's voice.


“How did you get up here?” She asked with a friendly smile. 


“My Daddy let me in,” she answered.  “And Mr. Stan likes cinnamon rolls the best, sometimes he even licks his fingers but I bet he won't today,” she giggled holding her hand up to her mouth as if to hide her giggles as Angie chuckled as well.


“Well then, cinnamon rolls it is.  Do you know Mr. Stan?” She asked wondering if Stan was married with children; she didn't think he was but the little girl seemed to know a lot about him.


“No, but my Daddy tells me lots of things,” she said vaguely.  “And do you know what?”


“What?” Angie asked cautiously.


“Mr. Stan likes you a lot and guess what?  He thinks you're too pretty for him.  Well I got to go, bye now,” she said as Angie stood a bit shocked.  The little girl left the kitchenette and Angie hesitated just a moment and then followed her out.


“Wait...” she looked down both hallways and saw nothing, the girl was gone.  Angie let out a slightly exasperating sigh and walked back with a tray of coffee and sweets.  She barely had time to place them on the desk when the elevator dinged and Stan came in with his tray.  He noticed that she had positioned a visitor chair in front of her desk with his mug now full of hot coffee and a cinnamon roll as well.  He effectively hid his surprise and instead produced a comfortable smile as he laid out the sandwiches, serving her first.


“How did you know...?” they both asked in unison and then laughed together.


“You first,” he offered as a gentleman.


“How did you know I preferred turkey on wheat?” She asked allowing herself the moment to relax.  There was nothing to do but wait for the next phone call and she really did need this break.


“A friend of yours told me,” he answered easily, as her eyebrows furled in question.


“About this high,” he demonstrated her height with his hand.  “Long red hair and all of five years old,” he clarified.


Angie looked confused, certainly recognizing the little girl's description.


“How did you know cinnamon rolls are my favorite?” He asked getting much more comfortable talking with the dark haired beauty.


Angie laughed out loud, “Your friend told me.  About this high, long red hair...” she said with a chuckle as the two shared a laugh.


“I've never seen her before in my life,” they both said almost in rehearsed unison. 


“Well then,” Angie said gracing Stan with a sincere smile meant especially for him as she raised her coffee cup.  “Here's to the little red-headed girl!” She finished as Stan joined in the fun and raised his mug as well.


The amusing moment passed as Angie couldn't quite join in the revelry yet... not with the Admiral and Doc Jamieson missing like this.  Stan seemed to understand as the two ate their lunch quietly.


* * * * *


Harry's eyes fluttered open to which he responded by squeezing them tightly together again as a moan escaped his lips.  He breathed deeply and then turned his head and spotted Jamie unconscious beside him. 


“Jamie,” he croaked out but got no response.


“He's sleeping,” he heard from a tiny voice to his right.  Harry's head tilted her direction having already sized up the car accident they apparently suffered after the blow out on Hwy 101.  They were fortunate they hadn't chosen Hwy 1 as that route sported deeper ravines, most were cliffs that opened to the ocean below. 


“Who are you?” He asked as a shudder of cold passed through him.


“The fog is here,” she answered, ignoring his question.  “Thick as pea soup,” she continued as if repeating an earlier conversation she had heard from adults.


“Yes,” Harry answered wondering how long he had been lying on the ground.  By the looks of the sky above him it was late in the day, 1500 or 1600 hours he'd guess.


“Some people say that rain is God's tears 'cause He's crying,” she said out of the blue.  “But that's not true.  My Daddy says that rain is just water in the clouds that gets heavy and falls to the ground.  Then it goes into the rivers and 'vaporates back up to the sky,” she announced proudly.


Harry nodded in agreement.  “Your father is a smart man,” he said as the little girl nodded her head in animated agreement. 


“He says it's called the water cicle...”


“Cycle,” Harry corrected, impressed with the young girl's recollection.


“Water cy-cle,” she said repeating the correct pronunciation proudly.


“Are you alone out here?”


“I'm never alone,” she answered evenly.  “I like you Admiral Nelson,” she continued.  “And my Daddy likes you too.”  She smiled broadly at the thought and then changed the subject drastically.


“Doc Jamie has been asleep too long.  I think you better wake him,” she said as Harry turned toward Seaview's doctor, taking in the dried blood on the side of his head.  He was terribly confused, weak and feverish, but the little girl was probably right.  He turned back toward her and noticed she was gone but heard her voice in the distance. 


“Even though it's foggy, they'll find you.  Captain Lee is on his way.”  The sound of her voice faded and rang as if she were in a cave as Harry contemplated the strange meeting.  Her red locks were reminiscent of his own Irish heritage and she seemed to know him well, it was definitely a mystery but one he couldn't solve just now.  He'd have to sort it out when his cognitive abilities caught up with his wakefulness.


“Jamie?”  “Jamie?” He repeated without moving as he had already found the shard of glass under the service jacket draped over him.


Jamie stirred and raised his head, smiling at finding Harry awake.


“Admiral!” He said moving slowly to a seated position, trying not to invoke another round of nausea.  “Don't move, you're severely injured,” he cautioned.


Harry swallowed hard, having already figured that one out.  His reasoning powers were starting to return and wondered again about the little girl.


“There was a little girl here a minute ago, did you see her?”  Harry asked in a weak croaking voice.


“A little red-head?”


Harry nodded.


“She's been here on and off since I woke up,” Jamie said smiling but reaching for his head.


“Are you okay?” Harry inquired with concern.


“A concussion,” Jamie answered and then smiled.  “But in the words of the good Captain... I'm fine,” he finished as he and Harry shared a weak smile.


“Admiral,” Jamie said changing the mood.  “I've been listening to cars drive by all day, no one knows we're down here,” he reported, laying their predicament on the line.


“I wonder...” Harry said trailing off.  “She said 'Captain Lee was on the way and he'd find us',” Harry repeated.


“How could she know?” Jamie inquired starting to chill as the fog dropped wet dew and the early December weather produced a slight chill as the temperature dropped to the mid-fifties.


“I have a feeling that she just does,” Harry replied with a slight knowing smile as Jamie looked on. 


Harry knows something.  Something he's not ready to share yet, but he definitely knows something, Jamie thought and laid back down curling to stay warm.


* * * * *


Lee and Chip traveled slowly for the heavy fog and stopped at the next gas station along the way.  They checked in with nothing new from Angie's command central and continued South on Hwy 101.  Lee had forgotten about the little red-headed girl, his attention fully spent on trying to see only a few feet from the car as they drove in what is known as zero visibility, producing dangerous driving conditions.  He hoped and prayed it was just patchy, local fog and they'd drive out of it soon increasing their chances of finding any clues to Harry and Jamie's whereabouts.  As they traveled, he happily noted the fog did indeed begin to dissipate as the thick fog was replaced with patches and visibility improved.  He was completely surprised however, when rain began to fall; first in scattered drops, but then turning from sprinkles to a light shower.  The rain was glorious as it washed the fog away, leaving sloppy driving conditions to be sure, but at least they could see the road now.


* * * * *


“Oh great!” Jamie said sarcastically, without a hint of humor and shivering as the rain drops started to fall.  “Just what we need,” he finished trying to keep his teeth from chattering.


“No, it's just what we need,” Harry corrected as the drops fell from the sky, rolling down his face like a cleansing bath.  “It's just what we need,” he repeated closing his eyes and sighing deeply.


Jamie curled tighter in a ball not understanding the Admiral, but too cold to ask him what he knew.


* * * * *


“Can you believe this weather?” Chip asked, concentrating on the road as he drove.  “First it's sunny and clear, then foggy, now rain.”


Lee shook his head in the negative, “I don't care as long as it washes the fog away.  I've got a bad feeling about this Chip.  The Admiral wouldn't just miss an appointment.  If he could have contacted Angie he would have.”


Chip agreed silently with a nod and then slammed on the brakes.  “What the...” he started and then faded off as Lee's eyes were diverted from the side of the road to straight ahead, spotting the red-headed girl standing in the middle of the road completely by herself.


“That does it!” Lee said with determination.  “Stay with the car, I'm going find out why this little girl keeps showing up along the way.”


Lee exited the car and walked toward her trying to ease back his tension to avoid frightening the child.  He got within five feet when the girl faded and disappeared from his sight, but in the distance he could hear her voice,


“Follow me.”


The rain was pouring at this point as the precipitation curled Lee's hair, dropping in heavy beads down the sides of his face.  He turned and ran back to the car.


“Where's the girl?” Chip asked confused, as Lee's position had completely blocked the child's disappearing act.


“Let's go, she's going to lead us to the Admiral,” Lee said as Chip raised an eyebrow in disbelief.


“Look, she shows up at the restaurant and at the pier and then disappears into nowhere.  She shows up in King City and disappears again.  And now I just watched her vanish before my eyes, but she said to 'follow her'.”


“What are we dealing with Lee?” Chip asked, not sure if following a little girl who appeared and disappeared at will was such a good idea.


“I'll figure it out once I find the Admiral,” Lee said with determination.  “Let's just go with it for now,” he added as Chip put the car in gear. 


They traveled another five miles when they spotted her again, she motioned them forward with a sweeping arm and disappeared once more.  Chip and Lee exchanged glances and then continued forward only two miles this time as the road curved sharply at a near ninety degree turn.  This time she stood next to the rock face on the east side of the road with her hand extended in the universal “stop” signal.


“This is it,” Lee said jumping out of the car but not seeing any evidence of an auto accident.  He cautiously approached the little girl and dropped to one knee as he gazed into her green eyes seeking something that told him she really was here to help.  He looked deep within in and saw pure love; he didn't understand it, he just knew it. 


Then he followed her hand as she raised it, pointing out the black marks on the rock face along the side of the road.  Lee reached toward the rock and felt, realizing it was black paint.  He stood and looked through the rain finding no other evidence of an automobile accident, but followed her hand to the side of the gully when the pieces fell into place as if a veil had been lifted.  The Admiral's car had hit the rock face and jumped over the guard rail!  He ran to the guard rail, still in place and sitting in perfect condition and peered down the deep gully spotting the Institute’s car some twenty feet below.


“We found them!” He yelled to Chip and then started down the gully to the small valley that separated the rolling hills from the road.


* * * * *


Stan continued his work and finally threw his hands up in surrender.  “I'm sorry Angie, I just can't figure this out,” referring to why the lights weren't working when the circuits checked out and he had checked and double checked every single bulb in the string.


Angie wasn't too concerned about the lights at this point, but she had enjoyed Stan's presence in the office.  It had been a quiet, reassuring presence and she was grateful for the company as she waited.  She was about to tell Stan to call it a day when the phone rang.


“Good news, Miss Watson!”  The voice on the other end exclaimed.  The only good news she was looking for at this point was that Lee had found the Admiral and Jamie, but she graciously dealt with the maintenance man looking for the manger scene. 


“We found the manger scene,” he finished proudly.  “Only one thing, there's a piece damaged.  Too damaged for display.”


“Oh dear,” she replied, knowing it was very special to Harry.  “Which piece?”


“The angel.”


“I think we can work with that.  Just set up the rest of the display the same as last year,” she instructed, handling the details that needed to be taken care of despite the Admiral's disappearance. 


“You got it Miss Watson, we'll get right on it!” He answered, obviously happy to comply as Angie signed off.


“Well I'll be...” Stan observed in wonder as Angie hung up her phone.


“How did you do that?” Angie asked as the soft white lights on the fica trees and garland suddenly blinked on and glowed warmly in the office.


“I didn't do anything,” he assured her in disbelief.  “They just started working again.”


“Well, at least the Admiral will find everything in order... when we find him,” she added as her first tears of the day rolled down her cheeks silently.


Stan's heart melted.  Instinctively he closed the distance and drew her into a comforting hug.


“It's okay Angie.  They're going to find them.  You have to believe.”


“But the fog, and it's getting dark,” she said trying to control what threatened to be a sob as small pitter-pat noises behind them drew their attention outside.  Small drops of rain fell on the sliding glass window and glided down effortlessly.  As the rain fell lightly the fog began to thin until the visibility cleared to several hundred yards.


“See there,” Stan said lifting her chin gently.  “You just have to believe.”


Angie gazed into his eyes as the emotionally charged electric moment demanded a kiss.  Stan lowered his head slowly, careful to read her body language; to back off if she didn't welcome his advance.  He felt no impediment and finished the move applying a soft, gentle kiss and finished it off with his thumb caressing her cheek lovingly.  Then his senses caught him as he dropped his hands and backed off.


“I'm sorry, Angie... Miss Watson.  I'll collect my gear and go,” he offered and started to turn but felt her soft grip pulling his hand to stay.


He turned back and gazed into her eyes as she smiled shyly.  He sighed audibly and returned her smile as a chuckle escape both their lips.


Angie composed herself and stepped back wiping the tears carefully to avoid streaking her eye make-up. 


“Please stay, Stan.  You've been a big help and I'm glad you're here.”


The phone rang, interrupting Stan's response... but he wasn't going anywhere.  It was Chief Sharkey checking in and reporting nothing.


“Very well, Chief.  Continue north and I'll report your position to Captain Crane the next time he calls...  Good bye.”


As she hung up the phone the room glowed brighter as both Stan and Angie turned instinctively to the brightening light.  Angie moved a step closer to Stan as the light transformed into the little red-headed girl.  Her hair was flowing as if the window was open and the breeze was blowing, even though the air was still in the office.


“Angelica,” the girl said, calling Angie by her given name.  “The Admiral needs your help... call him...”


The light faded taking the little girl with it as Angie and Stan exchanged glances of disbelief, nevertheless Angie repressed her shock and reached for the phone.


* * * * *


Harry opened his eyes as the rain fell in plops on his face and ran down the sides.  The hum of the occasional car had been a constant background noise once he woke, but something was different.  He cocked his head to one side as it sounded as if a car had stopped.  He listened carefully... perhaps he was wrong, maybe even wishful thinking, he thought and sighed resolving himself that he was hearing things.  He turned his head toward Jamie's shivering body, the blood on his face broadcasted a significant head injury.  He hadn't mentioned his condition, but Harry feared that Jamie was worse off than he was letting on.  Harry sighed, his silent prayers were all used up.  His head ached and his side was on fire, so he just closed his eyes to conserve his strength.


“Admiral Nelson.”


Harry turned toward her small voice and smiled.


“I wondered if you might be by again,” he said quietly as the little girl with Irish red hair appeared once more.


“You're going to be okay.  Captain Lee is here now,” her child like voice was strangely mature, as if possessing wisdom beyond her years.


“Your 'Daddy' arranged all this, didn't he?” Harry said referring to the rain that fell out of nowhere on a foggy day.


She smiled broadly.  “My Daddy thinks you're special 'cause even though you're so smart and a scientist and all, you don't forget Him.  He wanted you to know that He hasn't forgotten you.”  Her smile widened as a glow surrounded her body. 


“I'll never forget Him Little One,” Harry said as a breeze fluttered her hair, the glow intensified and she dissolved into thin air.




Lee's voice penetrated Harry's wonder at what he now knew was an angelic visit and called out.


“Lee!  Over here,” Harry called as the rain continued to fall in soft drops on his forehead. 


“Jamie, they're here,” Harry said, rousing Seaview's doctor; more than NIMR's skilled Chief Medical Officer, but a trusted friend.


“Well I'll be... just like she said,” he noted rolling on his back as the rain slowed to a soft trickle.


“Yes... just like she said,” Harry returned as Lee made his way past the wrecked car with Chip close behind.


Lee reached Jamie's side first taking a knee down and evaluating both men's condition at once.


“Jamie?” He said noting the blood on his face and collar.


“Just a concussion, but the Admiral has a shard embedded in his side.  He can't be moved without a basket.”


Lee patted Jamie's shoulder and moved to Harry's side as Chip arrived carrying blankets from the Institute's trunk issued emergency kit.


“Admiral?”  Lee called placing a careful hand on Harry's shoulder, both relieved at finding him and worried about his present condition.


“I'm alright, Lee,” Harry assured as Lee removed the wet jacket and raised Harry's hand to see the wound for himself.


“Here Lee,” Chip said spreading a dry blanket over Harry.


“Chip, Jamie says that the Admiral can't be moved.  You'll need to backtrack to the nearest town...”


Lee stopped in mid-sentence and raised his head, honing in on the faint buzz penetrating the cool air.


“The SAT phone!” He exclaimed. 


“It's inside the car,” Jamie added.  “But there's leaking gas...”


Lee was gone in a heartbeat, ignoring the stream of gas flowing like a small river under the car.  He tugged on the car door and began fiddling around the broken glass following the buzz until he found the SAT phone.  It was large and bulky but a welcome sight as he raised the antennae and pressed the receive button to answer the call.


“Angie?”  He said, assuming correctly who was calling.


“Lee!” She answered excitedly.


“We found him.  Car accident about one hundred miles South of Monterey on Hwy 101.  They're both hurt, Jamie can be transported by ambulance but the Admiral needs a medevac.”


“I'll contact the authorities and Sharkey should be converging on your location soon,” she responded not missing a heartbeat on what needed to be done.


“Good... and Angie, great timing on the call.  I don't how long it would have taken me to remember the satellite phone,” Lee admitted and signed off.


He returned to Harry's side as Chip made his way back down the gully with the first aid kit.  Lee reached for Harry's forehead with concern etched on his face.


“It's just a little fever,” Harry offered as Lee sat back, the two connecting with their eyes as Lee expelled a small sigh and a relieved half-smile.


“Angie is contacting the authorities.  You're going to be alright, Sir,” he said as much for his own sake as for Harry's.


“I know... a little girl told me,” Harry quipped as he allowed his eyes to close, resting and conserving his strength.


* * * * *


Lee Crane watched as the medevac chopper took off carrying his best friend, mentor and father figure.  Harry's condition had been stabilized and was currently en-route to Santa Barbara General Hospital along with Jamie.  He contacted Angie with the news and relieved Chief Sharkey and his crew to return to Santa Barbara, but he and Chip had remained behind to see to the details of the accident report.  They were finally given the clearance to leave as the two officers undertook the remaining two hour journey to Santa Barbara, anxious to reach the hospital and check on the Admiral.


* * * * *


Angie hung up the phone with a satisfied smile and turned to Stan.


“They're on their way to SB General, ETA to touch-down is forty minutes,” she reported with relief as she reached into the desk for her purse.


“Can I drive you to the hospital?” Stan offered, picking up his tool box and waiting for her response.


“That would be nice.  You sure you don't mind, it's after five you know?”


Stan smiled, his shy smile gaining more confidence and leaving soft dimples on his face, “I don't mind at all,” he assured her and motioned her to precede him to the elevator.


Once inside, Stan raised his eyes watching the numbers light up as the elevator descended.  He spoke quietly and nonchalantly.


“Angelica... I like that name, it fits,” he added with a soft grin.


He heard a sigh and turned toward her mock glare of displeasure.  “Well okay, but only you and my mother call me that,” she warned and smiled at the new friendship in bloom.  Stan returned her smile and resumed his watch upwards.  He'd been watching Angie Watson for a long time now, he was already in love, but he'd take this slow and give her time.  He was a Maintenance Technician III, a Handyman and he wasn't going to turn into James Bond, a naval officer or some sort of Wall Street Banker - like kissing a frog and turning into a prince.  He'd give her time to see if a simple Handyman was enough of a prince to fall in love with.  The thought caused an inward smile as he figured that there wasn't an insincere or pretentious bone in Angie's body.  He had high hopes that things would work out.


As the elevator reached the bottom floor they were greeted to the Nelson Institute's large foyer decorated tastefully and classically to reflect the joy of the Christmas season.  But for all the white twinkling lights and beautiful garland adorned with shiny golden bows, the center piece of the room was the Admiral's life size manger scene.  The sight caused Angie to stop and stare in amazement as the beauty of the hand carved and painted pieces inspired a sense of awe.


“It's beautiful, Charles,” she said to the maintenance worker who had spent the day looking for the treasured manger scene.  Charles stood proudly, satisfied with his work.


“Sure wish the angel had made it,” he replied shaking his head as Angie and Stan exchanged a glance.


“I think the angel did make it,” she added without explanation.  “Don't worry Charles, if I know the Admiral he'll have it covered,” she added with a smile. 


“Yes ma'am, and Merry Christmas ma'am,” Charles replied as Angie and Stan turned for the door.


* * * * *


“Yes Sir, tomorrow at eight would be fine.  Thank you, Mr. Felton I'll see you then,” Chip said hanging up the SAT phone as Lee drove.  They were only a half hour out of Santa Barbara but Chip had found his courage and needed to act on it, calling Monica's father and setting up the meeting.


Lee chuckled inwardly, still concerned about Harry and Jamie but allowing the drive to drain away some of the stress of the day.  His chuckle stemmed from the unusual if not totally uncharacteristic anxiety that his best friend was currently exhibiting.  Chip Morton was the best XO in or out of the Navy in Lee's book.  He'd worked with many executive officers in his naval career, both serving under and commanding, and he could say with confidence that Chip was indeed the best.  Impartial?  Not a chance, Chip had earned every bit of respect both he and Harry had for his considerable skills in running the boat.  So seeing him uncharacteristically flustered was slightly amusing, though Lee managed to mask his silent merriment at his XO's expense.


“So tomorrow's the night?” Lee stated rather than asked.


“Yeah,” Chip answered distractedly.  “You know Lee, we haven't talked about what happened.”


“The little girl?” Lee replied, knowing exactly what Chip referring to.


“When you turned and ran for the guard rail something happened,” Chip explained.  Lee kept his eyes on the road as Chip continued.


“Her body glowed, a pure bright light... and then she just...”


“Disappeared?” Lee said finishing Chip's statement.


“Yeah.  What do you think?”


“I don't know, but when I looked into her eyes I saw something... like pure love.”  Lee glanced over for just a second and returned his attention to the road.


“I think she was an angel,” Lee finished matter of factly.


“Yeah... me too,” was all Chip said as the two finished their drive in silence.


* * * * *


The hospital waiting room was crowded with concerned Seaview crew.  Sharkey had characteristically thought of his commanding officers and had swung by the Institute picking up spare uniforms for both Chip and Lee from their cabins aboard Seaview.   Sharkey and his search crew, Ski, Pat and Riley, all chose to hang around waiting for news.  Angie had no intention of leaving before receiving a good report and Stan Dryer planned to stay as long as she did.   


Lee had already checked on Jamie who was resting comfortably in a private room and enjoying a pain free sleep, woken every fifteen minutes according to protocol for the severity of his head injury.  Lee had joked with Jamie, offering to take the night watch of waking him... repayment for every concussion Lee wasn't able to sleep off without being waked, as the two shared a small laugh. 


He didn't want to push Jamie for information about the accident, but Jamie was only too happy to talk about it... especially the little red-headed girl who kept showing up at the crash site.  Jamie's head injury had clearly kept him from connecting the dots as Lee suspected that he hadn't quite figured out she was more than a child.  Just what Lee didn't know for sure, he was just grateful that both Jamie and Harry had been found and were now under medical care.  Though his respect for Harry had grown into something resembling more family than anything he also had a strong connection with Jamie.  Seaview's doctor had skillfully cared for him putting him back together when he really should have gone the way of Humpty Dumpty on more than one occasion in the last year and half aboard Seaview.  He didn't know if he ever really told Jamie how much he appreciated him and figured it was time to do so.


Once back in the waiting room the various stories of the red-headed girl began to emerge as each shared their experiences.  Each realizing the critical role the little girl had played in Harry and Jamie's rescue, specifically the fact that Lee would have missed the accident site since the guard rail was in perfect condition and completely intact.  They all decided it was a miracle, especially how the weather cleared with the unexpected rain washing the fog away.


“God works in mysterious ways,” Sharkey offered seriously as everyone nodded. 


Stan and Angie shared only the facts relevant to finding Harry and Jamie, choosing to keep their budding relationship quiet at this point.


Another hour passed before Harry was moved to his private room.  Sharkey and the crew left after a positive report was given on Harry's condition, promising to return the next day at regular visiting hours.


Lee, Chip, Angie and Stan had finagled their way into Harry's room, even though the duty nurse had preferred only two at a time; but apparently Lee's charm, uniform and the fact that his hair still sported delightful curls and waves from the rain had some effect on the nurse.  Originally, only Angie had been asked in, but she quickly invited Stan knowing that the day's events had involved him as well.  Jamie had even managed a visit, in a wheel chair of course. 


Harry and Jamie learned of the little red-headed girl's part in the rescue and filled the room in on how she visited with them as well.  They each marveled over how she had touched so many lives in one day.


“And everyone thinks I'm good at multitasking,” Chip quipped as the room chuckled lightly.


“Do you really think she was an angel, Sir?”  Lee asked as Harry smiled wearily, but without pain.


“Yes.  Yes I do, Lee.  It seems her mission was not only to aid in our rescue, but to touch each of your lives as well,” Harry said already noting the new relationship forming between Angie and Stan.


“But why a child, Sir?”  Angie wondered, she had never seen an angel before, but she always figured they came in the adult variety.


Harry pursed his lips slightly and then smiled.  “I think to remind us, especially this time of year, that it's all about a Child.  A Child in a manger,” Harry clarified as each head in the room nodded in agreement and a feeling of peace and gratefulness filled the room.


The sentimental mood was broken by Harry's unwilling yawn, followed quickly by Jamie's.


“I think it’s time to call it a night, Sir,” Lee said stepping in for the good of the two officers.


“Maybe you're right, Lee,” he acquiesced as everyone offered their good-byes and filed out, with Chip wheeling Jamie back to his room. 


Lee was the last to leave making sure Harry was settled in for the night and receiving instructions for what personal items he needed as his stay in the hospital was expected to extend four or five days. 


Lee smiled openly, pleased for the miracles of the day that ended so happily with both Harry and Jamie's safe return.  He said his good byes and left Harry to contemplate the day's events and the fact that an angel had been sent to intervene in their lives... all for the better.  He chuckled lightly, remembering to add his thanks for his good friends and fell to sleep easily.


* * * * *


Two weeks passed and things had returned to normal.  Admiral Nelson was back to work and feeling much better, still sore but able to function and do the things he loved to do in running the Institute. 


This evening he was hosting a special event, the annual Institute Gala, a black tie affair for the entire staff and their families.  Children were decked in their very best with suits, ties, shiny black shoes and festive holiday dresses.  Suits, ties, and tuxes adorned the men, and their wives and girlfriends came in their finest formal dresses, picked especially for the evening.  The formal affair began in the foyer as hors devours were served and everyone mingled.  From there they would board chartered buses for a grand ball room rented especially for the event. 


Harry stood proudly looking ever-so-dashing in his black tuxedo as he nodded to Lee, also wearing a black tux and sporting a beautiful young lady in a teal formal gown on his arm.  Lee tapped a spoon on a crystal glass as its delicate rings brought the noise of chatter and excitement down to silence in seconds.  Harry moved a few steps up on the grand staircase so he could be both seen and heard and smiled, pleased for the NIMR family he had acquired.  The festive lights and decorations were accentuated with the gold bunting that the secretaries thought would finish off the decor as the elegant foyer showcased the beauty of the season. 


“Before we board the buses,” Harry said receiving full attention from the crowded room, “I want to offer my sincere gratitude for the calibre of employees and friends I have in this room now.  You are each a valuable member of the NIMR family, and I raise my glass to you.”


Harry did so, as others joined in with a hearty, “Hear, Hear.”   He glanced over the foyer taking in the satisfying moment and connecting with his employees with his piercing eyes that said so much even in his silence.  Chip was present wearing a black tux with a crimson red cummerbund and bow tie, matching perfectly the crimson red ball gown worn by his new fiancée, Monica Felton.  Her left hand was tucked into his proffered arm as her diamond solitaire shimmered and shined catching the many lights of the room. 


Angie had come in a long black formal gown, simple yet extraordinarily elegant.  She was escorted this evening by Stan Dryer who had surprised everyone by wearing a black tux; the high collar was worn without a tie and instead sported a black onyx button which offered the perfect amount of color to break his white shirt.  His impressive looks were noticed by a circle of secretaries who quietly pondered among themselves just how they had missed the handsome handyman in the three years he had worked there.


“Now,” Harry resumed, “I have a surprise for you.  As you know our angel was damaged, but through the skills of my good friend, Ramone,” Harry motioned to a man standing off to the side, “He has provided a replacement.  The angel was made to my specifications and she's going to make her grand debut here tonight.”


His statement was met by applause of satisfaction and anticipation as children were urged to move forward to get the best view.  The lights were dimmed, save for the spot light on the manger scene as Stu Riley played the guitar, strumming a skilled rendition of Away in the Manger.  Harry nodded as Kowalski and Patterson carried the angel and positioned her in place.  Oohs and aahs filled the room as the carved angel child sporting long flowing auburn red hair and a flowing white gown was placed at the head of the Babe's manger, worshiping as she guarded over the baby king.


The moment was topped off as Riley ceased playing and led the group in singing Silent Night a cappella.  Smiles and a few tears were wiped away as Harry spoke.


“Now, let's board the buses and enjoy a good dinner with dear friends.”


The crowd clapped in appreciation of their generous boss and began filing out.


Harry and Lee stayed behind; they would lock up and travel by their own car as their dates waited outside talking with other guests waiting to board the buses.


“Are you ready to go Admiral?”  Lee asked as Harry seemed to be lingering.


“In a moment, Lee,” he answered, waiting as if something was left undone. 


A moment later the manger scene was adorned by a light even brighter than the spot light as the little red-headed angel appeared next to her wooden counterpart and smiled.


“I wondered if you'd show up,” Harry said with a soft smile that creased his face in a dramatically handsome way, as Lee sided up next to him.


The little girl smiled and glowed even brighter as she was suddenly transformed from a child to a beautiful young woman.  Her auburn red hair still long and flowing, wearing a pure white gown that sparkled forth a brilliance of its own.  Though she was now a young woman, the eyes of the child were still recognizable as she spoke.


“Hello Harry, Lee.  My name is Monica and this is my true form.  I've come to thank you,” she said with a smile that warmed the entire room.


“Thank me?” Harry asked confused.


“Yes.  You see, the Father not only gave you gifts, but in fulfilling my assignment He gave me a gift.  Angels are created, not born,” she explained.  “He sent me as a “child” and in doing so I was given the gift of experiencing childhood, if only for a day.  It was glorious,” she delighted in pure wonderment.


The room lit again as two more angels appeared, one of beautiful ebony skin, mature and full of wisdom, the other a handsome young man with sandy blond hair.  The presence of three angels in their glorified form was nearly intoxifying as both Harry and Lee chuckled with the love that filled the room.


“This is Tess, my supervisor and this is Andrew...”


“Have we met before?” Lee interrupted, his eyebrows tightening in question.


“I'm the angel of death.  I have the privilege of escorting the faithful to the Throne room and I have watched over you several times,” he added with a reassuring smile that produced soft dimples in his cheeks.


Lee nodded accepting the answer, recognizing the strong aura of hope that radiated from Andrew and somehow knowing that he had drawn on that hope before, having had several close brushes with death in his career.


Monica's face glowed with delight as she continued, “I also have a message for you Harriman.  The Father says, 'Well done'.”


Tears bubbled up in Harry's eyes as he nodded and swallowed hard, unable to speak. 


“It's time for us to go Baby,” Tess said, her smile wide and contagious.  “May you always remember the Child,” she urged and began singing.  Her strong, hearty and beautiful voice filled the empty foyer with the familiar carol, “Oh Come all Ye Faithful,” as the three angels faded, but not before a dove appeared out of nowhere, fluttering and landing gracefully upon the shoulder of the wooden child angel.


The room returned to normal as Harry and Lee both took in deep breaths and blew them out in unison.


“Well, I don't know about you Lad, but I think I just got my Christmas present,” Harry said as Lee smiled warmly in agreement as the two shared the satisfying moment.  Harry placed a warm arm on Lee's shoulder as they both turned to leave, the angelic visit missed by everyone accept the pair.


“Merry Christmas, Lee.”


“Merry Christmas, Admiral.”




The End


And A Child Shall Lead Them




* See my story, Plausible Deniability

** Invasion of Sea Lions in Monterey Bay? - Not fiction at all, see the following story!  http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/800-Sea-Lions-Roar-Into-Monterey-Bay-2979693.php

*** History of Word Processors – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_processor  I'm old enough to remember when a WP referred to the dedicated typewriter-like machine with a small screen that showed only one line of the document at a time; these days a word processor refers to software not hardware.  It's all part of the feel of the 70's/80's, which is why I bother to share these things! : )


Credits:  Touched by an Angel was a television series that ran for nine years on CBS, from 1994 – 2003; starring Roma Downey, Della Reese, and John Dye, created by John Masius and produced by Martha Williamson.  Please note that the story line pairs Monica and Tess together after their separate assignments in ministering to Abraham Lincoln and are not constrained by the fact that the Voyage series predates the Angel series.  (Just covering my bases) : )


Author's Notes: 

I mentioned in Dangerous When Wet that Angie's full name isn't “Angela” which prompted the question of just what her full name is, so I decided to clear up the mystery!


I always said that if I ever wrote Voyage fan fiction I would never write a cross-over.  Well, never say never as I have now written three!****  I couldn't resist this one, hope you enjoyed the tale.   ~Lynn~


**** Lynn's Cross-over Stories

Eye of the Storm – Crossover with Hogan's Heroes, a second season story 

Of Captains and Legends – Crossover with Star Trek, The Original Series, a fourth season story

And A Child Shall Lead Them – Crossover with Touched by an Angel, a second season story




















Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and her main characters belong to Irwin Allen

Touched by an Angel is the property of CBS Worldwide, Inc.