Title:  Return

By: tayryn

Rating:  FRAO

Archive: my site

Disclaimer: seaQuest and the crew who man her, as well as those characters in that undersea universe belong to Amblin.  Any original characters are mine.

Summary:  Returning after a long absence.

Notes:  This story take place at the beginning of third season.  It is also written in first person… something I don’t do too often, as I don’t feel I write it that well.  Whether or not that is true… is your call!


And… my thanks, as they always do, go to Jaya for the beta’ing!  (bugs!)


~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~


‘Oh please… Oh please please please pleasepuh-lease… please don’t let her have heard yet!  Somehow… they’ve made it back.  I’ve got to tell her… I need to tell her before she hears it from anyone else.  I know she doesn’t watch, read or even listen to the news anymore.  Hasn’t for the almost ten years now… but I’ve still got to be the one to tell her.’


Those thoughts and more go through my head as I climb up the large stone staircase leading to the house.  She’s probably out back, lounging by the pool; it’s what she usually does on Sundays, so I quickly make my way around the house then stop.


She’s lounging in her favourite chair by the pool, just like I knew she would be… but something tells me I may be too late as I watch her suddenly jump up from the chair and fly across the deck… straight into the arms of the man I didn’t see standing there.


I don’t know how he knew she was here, or how he got here before I did… all I know is that he is holding and kissing the woman I love.


My eyes close then fly back open when I hear her sob his name and pull back in his arms to stare up at him.


“Oh, Nathan… is it… is it really you?”


“Yes, baby… it’s really me.”


“How…?  When did you…?  I’ve missed you so much… I…”


“I know, Kris… I know.  I’ve missed you too.”


Their words drift across the yard to me…


“I knew you were still alive.  No matter what everyone else thought… I knew,” Kristin tells Nathan.


And she did too.  For the last ten years, she’s never stopped believing that he was alive.  Even when I, and everyone else had given up hope… Kristin never did.


“I could feel it… here…”


I watch Kristin grab Nathan’s hand and place it over her heart.


“I was hoping…”


I could hear Nathan begin then stop, unable to continue and watched as he pulled her back into his arms then buried his face in her hair, mumbling words I couldn’t make out.


Kristin pulls her head back once again and meets his eyes, tears streaming down her face.  “Do you really?”




“Oh, Nathan… I… I love you too…”


My heart skips a beat with her words.  It’s not like I haven’t always known… but still, to hear her tell him this, after he’s been gone for so long… it still hurts.


“I want to make love to you…”


“You do?  How can you?  I’m old.  I’ve aged ten years since you’ve last seen me… and you… you still look the same.”


“You are still the most beautiful woman I know.”


I have to agree with Nathan as I let my eyes rake over her bikini-clad form… and smile appreciatively.  Even in her mid-fifties… Kristin Westphalen is still a damned fine looking woman.  She is in excellent shape…


“No, I’m…”


“You are.  You are…” Nathan smiles at her.  “I have never lied to you, Kris.”


“I know…”


“Then trust me when I tell you… you’re beautiful.”


Kristin nods and blushes softly.


“And I still want to… very much… make love to you,” Nathan tells her as he slides his hands from her waist to cup her rear and pull her closer.


“I want that too…” Kristin replies as her hands rest on his chest.  “But before we… there’s something I need to tell you… something you need to know…”


“Kris… unless you’re going to tell me you’ve fallen in love with or married another man… it doesn’t matter.”


Kristin cups his cheek.  “No… I’ve not fallen in love with anyone else… nor have I gotten married while you were gone.  My heart still belongs to you…”


I watch as a brilliant smile fills Nathan’s face at her words, and I feel my heart sink a little more.  I knew… I’d always known that her feelings for me were never anything more than those of a dear friend… but it doesn’t lessen the pain any.


“And mine to you,” Nathan tells her as he leans close and brushes his lips over hers.


The kiss quickly grew into something more and Kristin’s fingers began to work on undoing the buttons on his shirt.  Nathan reaches up and grasps her hands, stilling them.


“Nathan?  I thought that you…”


“I do, sweetheart.  I do…” Nathan smiles at her.  “Just not out here.  I don’t want our first time making love in a decade to be a rushed affair in lounge chair by the pool.  I want to make love to you in your bed… with your scent all around us… I want to seduce you.”


Even from where I’m standing, I can see the effect Nathan’s words have on Kristin.  Her nostrils flare slightly as her skin flushes, and I know it isn’t the breeze that is causing her nipples to push out, hard and proud against her bikini top.  I watch as she nods, slips her hands into his and begins to walk backwards, pulling him with her.




“I have my own house…”


“Oh…” Nathan grins.  “Lead the way.”


I follow them as they make their way to the small house I had built here several months after Kristin arrived here… after Nathan and the seaQuest disappeared.  I know I shouldn’t be doing this, that I should leave them be, but I can’t seem to stop myself from doing anything but watching and listening to their reunion.


I pause to watch Kristin lead him through a set of French doors that I know lead to her bedroom and then again, knowing I shouldn’t, I quietly creep closer… and watch as Nathan begins to put his earlier statement into practice.


My breath catches, and I stare transfixed as Nathan reaches around Kristin to undo the bow in the middle of her back.  The thin straps fall to hang at her sides, loosening but not uncovering her full breasts.  Then in what I swear has to be slow motion, he reaches up and very slowly pulls apart the bow at the base of her neck.


“Oh…” Kristin gasps as Nathan reaches out and cups her breasts in his large hands, his thumbs teasing her already hard nipples.  “…Nath…”


I find myself unconsciously licking my lips as Nathan smiles then leans down and takes one of the rosy tips into his mouth.  Kristin’s moan of pleasure reaches my ears and I watch as she clutches Nathan’s head to her breast, encouraging him to take more into his mouth… which he does, quite willingly.


Several minutes pass as Nathan moves back and forth between one breast and the other, taking each nipple into his mouth, and I stand outside the door watching… feeling like a heel for doing so, but unable to look away.


“You taste as sweet as I remember,” Nathan whispers as he releases her breast and kisses his way back up to her lips.  “And your skin…” his hands return to cup the firm mounds,  is as soft as I remember too…”


“Nathan… please…” Kristin pleads softly as she finally succeeds in pushing his shirt from his shoulders.


I watch Kristin take her turn and run her hands over his chest, combing her fingers through the graying hair and pausing to play with his nipples.  She then leans forward and swipes the small tip with her tongue and Nathan moans, his hands clenching where they remain cupping her breasts.


My eyes follow as she nips her way across his chest and just as she touches his nipple with the point of her tongue, Nathan releases her breasts, grasps her upper arms and pulls her back against him, his mouth covering hers in a ravenous kiss.


As their lips stay locked, Nathan slowly turns them and walks Kristin back towards her bed.  They stop just as the back of her legs brush the fluffy blue comforter, and Nathan breaks off the kiss.  All I can see now is Nathan’s back… but something tells me that they are both smiling at each other as his hands move to the thin straps at Kristin’s hips.


“Me first,” Kristin said as I watch her lift her arms.  Seconds later, I hear the telltale sound of Nathan’s zipper being pulled down.  Her hands move into the waistband of his pants as she slowly pushes them down off his hips.  “Mmm… mmmmmm… you still have a very fine body, Bridger…” she comments with a smile as he steps out of his shorts.


I hear Nathan chuckle his thanks as he slowly sinks to his knees before her, and I watch as he reaches up and hooks his fingers into the straps of her bikini bottoms.  I find myself holding my breath as with an excruciating slowness, he pulls then tiny briefs down.


With his head where it is, I can’t see anything more than Kristin’s breasts, and the subtle flair of her hips, but my imagination is filling in the blanks even as I hear Nathan’s deep inhalation.


“Oh, Kris…” Nathan looks up, and lets his eyes trail up her body; starting with the patch of auburn curls just inches from his face, over the flat plain of her stomach to her full breasts which rise and fall with each deep breath she takes then finally his eyes meet hers and he smiles.


‘I should go…’ I think to myself as Nathan climbs to his feet, but I don’t move.  Instead, I remain where I am and continue to peer through the patio window and watch as Nathan lowers Kristin down onto the bed then after a moment’s pause, stretches out over her; covering her body with his.


I can hear them whispering to each other, but I can’t make out what they’re saying, and at this moment, I am grateful that I can’t… as I’ve got a very good idea of just what the words are.  The whispering fades away and I realize that they’ve stopped talking and are once again kissing.


They kiss for what seems like an eternity and then, Nathan breaks off the kiss and rises up on his arms while Kristin bends and parts her legs to cradle his hips against hers.


I turn away and press my back to the wall, but find I still can’t bring myself to leave… but I can’t watch any longer.  I can’t watch them… watch their bodies join…


“Mmm… oh…”


I hear Kristin’s voice catch and I know what is happening.




The pleasure in her voice is undeniable… as is the overwhelming love.




I squeeze my eyes shut, even though I’m still not looking back at them, and I can hear the springs in the mattress give way which is a sure-fire giveaway as to what is happening now.  But even with my eyes closed… my imagination is supplying me with full-colour images to accompany the sounds I’m hearing.


Soft moans and gasps mingle with low grunts, groans, and with other sounds that I try desperately to block from my mind… with little success.


“Ooh… oh yes… Nathan…”


“Kris… Kris… oh god, baby…”


Suddenly, it’s too much.  I can’t take it anymore.  I open my eyes and push myself off the wall and move away… and find myself moving around the corner to the second set of French doors in Kristin’s bedroom.  I glance in… and through the lacy curtains I see them on the bed; their bodies rocking together in perfect rhythm.


I turn away… but again… I don’t leave.


I stare out over the ocean as I listen to the two reunited lovers making love.


Before long, the sounds coming from Kristin’s bed grow louder… and more desperate and I realize that they are close to finishing.  A loud, decidedly feminine keening reaches my ears and I focus my attention on the incoming waves, trying very hard to rid my mind of the image of Kristin… lost in the throes of orgasmic pleasure.


“… come for me, baby…”


“Oh god… Nath…”


“That’s it… come, Kris…”








I close my eyes, knowing Kristin has just climaxed, and from the sound of it… it was a very powerful, very intense orgasm.  Several moments later, I hear her speak… her voice husky and slightly breathless.


“Your turn, my love…”






“I… I’m com… oh gooodddd… Kris… tin!”


The low groan that follows is muffled so I open my eyes and turn to once again peer in.  From this new angle, I see them, lying entangled across the bed.  I watch in surprise as instead of rolling off of her, Nathan nestles deeper into Kristin’s arms.  She loosens her legs from where they’re wrapped around his waist and entwines them with his as she tightens her arms around him.


They lay that way for long minutes… neither one talking, simply holding each other and basking in the afterglow of having made love for the first time in a decade.  And while I am so very jealous at this moment, I also know that I am witnessing something very special, and very rare…


True love.


I am also amazed that Kristin is allowing Nathan to remain on top of her like he is.  Most women I know would have pushed me off them within minutes of coming… but Kristin is actually holding him… quite tightly from the looks of it, and I’m not sure, but I think I can see tears streaming down the sides of Kristin’s face.


“Oh, my love… how I’ve missed you…”


She is crying… but they are obviously happy tears, and now I know why she hasn’t let him go.  Kristin’s tears continue for several minutes then Nathan lifts his head to gaze down at her, and I realize that he is crying too.


“And I you, sweetheart… but I’m home now, and I am never leaving you again.”


“I won’t let you…”


I watch as Nathan lowers his head to brush a soft kiss over Kristin’s lips then proceeds to kiss away the tears clinging to her cheeks, all the while whispering words I can’t hear.  He finishes and shifts away from her.  A soft, mournful whimper reaches my ears and I see Nathan quickly roll onto his back and pull Kristin into his arms, holding her tightly against his side as she buries her face in his throat.


“Ssh… it’s okay, baby…”


“Just don’t be gone too long…”


I don’t understand what they’re talking about and then I see Kristin’s hand reach out and cover Nathan’s groin.  I get it now.


“I won’t…”


Nathan pulls her closer and I watch as Kristin shifts, lays her head on his chest and snuggles closer, pressing her firm breasts into his side then slipping her leg across and between his thighs; her hand remaining on his groin.


They release simultaneous sighs of contentment and after several minutes of silence, I’m convinced that they’ve fallen asleep.  I take a step away from the doors.


“How many times?”


I step back to the door at Nathan’s softly uttered question, wondering just what he is asking her.




My breath catches as I realize what they’re discussing.


“The first time was nine years ago… and the second was five years ago.”


I close my eyes as the memories of those two encounters wash over me.  I knew then, as I know now that she’d merely come to me out of loneliness.  The first time… all those years ago, I’d woken up to find her in my bed; kissing me all over my face… my eyes, my cheeks… everywhere buy my mouth.


She never said a word, and before I knew what was happening, a condom had been rolled on my dick and then I was inside her, thrusting for all I was worth.


It was over in minutes, and I know I didn’t satisfy her…


She’d pushed me off her, and told me to go back to sleep.  As I fell asleep that night, I’d known that when I woke she wouldn’t be there.  And she hadn’t been.  We never spoke of what happened that night, and our friendship continued as it always had.  Within days, she’d moved into her house.


Four years later, it happened again.  She’d appeared in my bed.  We had sex and the next morning, she was gone and it was never mentioned.


But oh I treasured those memories.  True… it’d been dark, and I couldn’t see much of her… but I’d been with her, and that had been a dream come true.


“The first time I slept with Malcolm… it was on the first anniversary of your disappearance.  And while I still believed you were alive… I…”


“Felt the need to be with someone.”




“And the second time?”


“The same reason.  For some reason, your being gone hit me very hard that year.  I hadn’t given up hope that you would return… but I suddenly just felt so overwhelmed with the loss of you.”  Kristin turns her face into his chest.  “I’m sorry, Nathan… I’m sorry I didn’t wait for you…”


I realize that I’m still holding my breath as I wait for Nathan’s reaction to Kristin’s revelation that she’d had sex with me… twice.


“You’ve nothing to be sorry for.”


“But I…”


“I know.  Do you love him?”


“As a dear friend… yes.  Am I in love with him?  No.  I told you, my heart belongs to you.”


“And that is why you’ve got nothing to be sorry for.  I was gone, Kris.  For all intents and purposes, I was dead.  At least that is how the world saw me…”


“But I knew otherwise…”


“And you’re only human, my love,” Nathan says.  “I understand the need to be held, to embrace life… I don’t hate you.  I am not angry with you, and more importantly, I still love you.  I always have and I always will love you.”


I release the breath in relief.  I should have known that Nathan would not be angry with her… and I pray he’s not angry with me either.


“Oh, Nathan…”


I open my eyes in time to see Kristin lift her head and cover Nathan’s mouth in a hungry kiss.  Nathan pulls her body over his and I have no trouble hearing the moans they both issue as their bodies come into complete contact again.


Suddenly, Nathan rolls them over, pinning Kristin to the mattress then breaks off the kiss to look down at her.  He smiles at her then dips his head to capture a rosy nipple in his mouth and Kristin gasps.  Several moments later, after having treated her other breast to the same sweet torture, Nathan starts to kiss his way down along her stomach.


He pauses just above her belly button and looks up at her.


“Your breasts are larger.”




“Your breasts.  They’ve gotten bigger.  Not by much… but they are fuller than I remember them being,” Nathan says.  “And then there’s…”


I can see his fingers tracing lines on her stomach.


“…these.  You didn’t have these the last time I saw you naked.”


“No… I didn’t.”


“They look like stretch marks…”


“They are.”


I watch as Kristin stretches her hand back towards her nightstand and grabs a double frame.  She brings it forward, resting it in front of her chest for Nathan to see.




“This is your son… Nathan Hale Bridger Junior.”


“My… my son…”


I can see Nathan’s hand shaking as he reaches out to touch the image of the son he just learned he had.


“My… oh, Kris… he’s beautiful.”


“Yes, he is.  He looks just like you.  Dark hair, blue eyes… long, lanky body.”


“Tell me everything… when was he born?  How much did he weigh?  How long was he?”


Nate was born February twenty-seventh at two o’clock in morning.  He weighed eight pounds three ounces and was twenty-three inches long.”


“I bet you were gorgeous…”


I’ll say she was.


“I was fat… swollen ankles, puffy face… I was far from gorgeous.”


“You were heavy with my child… you were not fat.  If anything, I’ll bet you were radiant.”


“We’ll watch the videos later… and you can tell me then…”


“You have videos?”


“Yes.  Malcolm went nuts with that bloody camera… but I am glad he did, because I knew one day you would be home, and this way you would be able see the stages of my pregnancy and your son’s birth.”


“Malcolm taped his birth?”


“Actually… Janet did.  Malcolm… was out of the country when Nate was born.”


“Where is our son?”


“He and Caesar are camping on the other side of the island.  They’re due to come back tomorrow.”


“Why here?”




“Why Malcolm’s island?  Why not ours?”


I had been wondering when he would ask that.  Nathan has known for quite a while that I had an infatuation with the lovely doctor.


“I wanted to go to our island… I wanted Nate born there, in our house.  But when the seaQuest disappeared, you became even more of a celebrity than you already were.  Everything and anything about you was news.  Including your relationship with me.”


“They hounded you?”


“Yes.  They did.  The world didn’t know what happened… all that was known was that you and the seaQuest were missing.”


“Bill didn’t…”


“He told me.  Well, as much as he knew anyway.  I’d gone to the doctor’s the day you’d disappeared, and in all the commotion, I’d forgotten to go back for my results… so it was days later when I learned that I was pregnant.  When I found out, I decided that I needed to get away.  I was all set to leave for our island when Bill told me that some of the reporters had set up camp on the beach there…”


“So Malcolm stepped in and invited you here.”


Mmhmm.  But I made it clear that I would not live in his house… that I needed my own place.  He agreed.  I stayed with Bill and Janet for a couple months while I made arrangements, and only stayed with him until the house was finished.”


“How long did that take?”


“About eight months… it was completed about six months after Nate was born.”


I watch as Nathan processes the information, and I know he’s realizing that Kristin was living in my house when we had sex.


“And where’s Malcolm right now?”


I am surprised at the lack of anger or jealousy in Nathan’s voice.  If I were in his shoes, I don’t know if I could be so generous… despite the circumstances.


“He’s off at some conference.”


“When is he supposed to come home?”




“So… that means…”




“So… what would you like to do?”


“It doesn’t matter… we have all afternoon… and the rest of our lives.”


“Speaking of the rest of our lives…”


I watch Nathan slide back up Kristin’s body so that he’s looking down directly into her eyes.


“Would you do me the honour of remarrying me?”


I just manage to catch myself from falling through the screen.  Remarried?  Nathan and Kristin were… are… married?!


“Oh yes, my love.  I will most certainly remarry you.”


They seal their promise with a kiss… a soft kiss that quickly grows into something more passionate and my eyes follow Nathan as he resumes his earlier trek down her body; his lips leaving a wet trail that I can see glistening from outside.  Kristin draws her legs up as Nathan reaches the apex of her thighs… loving her in a way I’ve only ever dreamed about.


I close my eyes and once again turn away.


‘Leave!’  I tell myself as I hear Kristin cry out in unmistakable delight.  ‘Don’t do this to yourself anymore.  Don’t do this to them…’


I don’t leave.


Part of me is praying this all a dream.  Some horrible dream, and then I realize that is a selfish wish… a wish that would cause Kristin continued pain, and that is something I would never, ever want for her.


“Mmm… oh… oh yes… oh, Nathan… yes…”


I open my eyes and look up into the cloudless sky as the sounds of Nathan loving Kristin drift out to me.


“…Nathan… please… I…”


For some reason, I turn and glance back into the room… just in time to watch Kristin arch her back as she cries out Nathan’s name.


 Lord, she’s beautiful!


Her breasts thrust high in the air, her body lifting off the mattress, one hand clenching the blanket, the other Nathan’s hair.


Moments later, she falls back to the bed, her body shuddering and I watch as Nathan rises up then quickly covers Kristin’s body.  I am actually shocked when Kristin opens her eyes then kisses him voraciously, licking her juices from his face; her tongue darting out to flick against his glistening lips and chin.


“I love you…”


The words are whispered simultaneously between them as I realize that Nathan is slowly slipping inside her.


“Mmm… I love feeling you inside me.”


“And I love the feeling of being inside you, sweetheart.”


I watch as Nathan rises up on his arms above Kristin and after a few moments pause, begins to thrust into her.  His pace is slow and steady… Kristin moans approvingly and wraps her long legs around his waist then arches up to meet the driving of his hips.


I turn away from the door.


I can’t watch anymore.


Not only that… if I stick around, I am liable to get caught spying on them, and I don’t want that.  It would be embarrassing for all of us, and they would be quite pissed with me.


With a final peek in the window at the still thrusting lovers, I leave and quietly make my way away from Kristin’s house, walking down the path that leads to the pool then to my house.  I cross the deck, enter the back room, grab a beer from the fridge then slip back outside.


I just settle into the hammock I have set up when I hear Nathan and Kristin’s voices cry out in ecstasy.  I open the beer, toss the cap over my shoulder and take a pull of the cold amber liquid.


It’s going to be a long afternoon…


~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~


The sound of soft laughter and voices wakes me up and I realize I’ve fallen asleep in the hammock.  I shrug.  It’s not the first time, and certainly won’t be the last.


The voices get louder and I swing my legs over the edge of the hammock then stand up, smoothing the wrinkles out of my shirt just as Nathan and Kristin step onto the deck.


“Malcolm!  You’re home!”


“Yep,” I nod as I make my way over to them.  “Welcome home, Nathan.”


“Thanks, Downey.”  Nathan replies and pulls me into a quick hug.


“You don’t seem surprised, Malcolm.”


“I heard about the seaQuest’s return at the conference…” I answer.


“Is that why you’re home early?”  Kristin asks me.


“Yes.  I wanted to tell you before you heard the news from someone else,” I smile and shrug my shoulders.  “But it looks like Nathan beat me to it.”


A broad smile fills Kristin’s face as she wraps her arms around Nathan’s waist, lays her head on his shoulder and squeezes him tightly.  “Yes… he did.”


“So… when did you get home, Downey?”


“Oh… about the same time you did,” I answer and watch as they exchange looks.  “I saw the two of you heading down the path to Kristin’s house so I grabbed a beer and settled in on the hammock.  Guess I fell asleep.”


My answer seems to satisfy them.  It’s not like I’m lying… I’m just omitting all the watching them have sex parts.  Nathan would knock my block off if he knew I’d stood there and watched.


“So… can I get either of you a beer?”


“Sounds good.  Thanks.”




“Sure… why not.”


“Okay… two beers coming up.”


I give them a smile then turn and head into the house.  As I reach into the fridge for the beer, I glance out the window and see them in each other’s arms… kissing.


I suppose I’d better get used to this… seeing them like this… all touchy-feely.  They’ve always been that way… I don’t think it’s gonna change simply because he’s been away for ten years.


All of a sudden I stop as the thought occurs to me… who’s to say they’re even going to stay on this island?


Nathan owns his own island.  There is no reason for them to stay here.  Hell, Kristin could have moved to that island years ago but didn’t simply because Nate had a playmate in Caesar.  At least… that is what she always told me.  Whenever I allowed myself to think about it, I realized the real reason she probably didn’t go to Nathan’s island is because Nathan wasn’t there… and that the memories would have been too much for her.


I lean heavily against the fridge, the beers forgotten as I contemplate this new development. 


Would she really leave?


Would Nathan stay?


Could I handle it if he stayed?


“Hey, Downey!  You cultivating those hops yourself?”


I shake myself out of my thoughts, straighten up and yell back.  “Yeah… I’ll be right out!” 


I grab the beers out of the fridge, quickly pop the caps then head back outside.


“Here you go…” I hand them their beers and I lift mine in a toast.  “Welcome home, Nathan.”


Kristin smiles lovingly up at him as she echoes my sentiments.


“Thank you.  It’s good to be home.”


We clink our bottles together then all take a long drink.


Suddenly there is a loud commotion coming from the side of the house and we all turn to look just as Caesar and Nathan Junior come barreling around the corner.


They come to an abrupt halt when they see us standing there. 


I watch Nate’s eyes widen as he looks at his father in person for the first time.  He’s seen pictures, and what few home movies Kristin has… and Kristin has told him all about Nathan… so he knows who his father is… but I’m thinking seeing Nathan in the flesh for the first time has got to be shocking for the kid.




“Yes, son… it’s me.”


There’s a sudden blur as young Nathan flies across the deck and launches himself into his father’s arms.  I watch the tears stream down Nathan’s face as he holds his son for the first time, clutching him tightly to his chest.


“My son!  Oh my precious boy…”


I feel Caesar move up beside me.  I lay my hand on my adopted son’s shoulder and together we watch as Kristin moves into the embrace between father and son.


“He’s home.”  Caesar whispers to me and I nod.  “Maybe we should give them some privacy.”


“Good idea,” I agree and we quietly slip away, leaving the family to bond.


~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~


I’m leaning against the terrace, staring out on the ocean when I hear footsteps behind me, and even without turning, I know exactly who it is.


“I brought you another beer.”


“Thanks,” I take the beer, twist off the cap then hold up the bottle.  “To life.”


“And death…”


“To beer!”  We chime together then chuckle.  A friendly silence falls between us as we drink our beers.


Nate sure is a great kid,” Nathan says quietly.


“Yeah… he is.  He’s got your weird-ass sense of humour too,” I tell him.


“Thank you, Downey.”


I turn to look at Nathan.


“Thank you for looking after my wife and son.  It means a lot to me…”


“You’re welcome, Nathan,” I reply.  “I was happy to do it.  Kristin is a special lady.”


“Yes… she is.”


“And I knew… know how much she means to you,” I shrug.  “There really wasn’t any choice… I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I hadn’t at least made the offer.”


“I’m glad you did, and I’m glad she had you here to lean on.”


“That’s what friends are for.”


“I know it hasn’t been easy for her these last ten years… not knowing for sure whether I was alive or dead… and then with Nate too…” Nathan says.  “I know it’s been lonely for her at times…”


His voice trails off and Nathan gives me a hard stare.  I realize he’s trying to let me know that he knows about the two times Kristin and I had sex.  I swallow, trying to determine what he’s thinking… and if he’s going to lay me out.


“Nathan… I…”


“It’s all right, Malcolm.  I’m not gonna deck you,” Nathan tells me with a smile then takes a swig of his beer.  “I understand…”


“You do?”




I shake my head.  I still can’t believe how calm Nathan is about this.  If I were in his shoes… I don’t know if I would be as calm and I tell him so.  He smiles and chuckles softly.


“Well… I will admit… my first impulse was to hunt you down and beat the shit out of you,” he pauses to take a drink.  “But after I thought about it, I realized… she was alone.  As far as the world was concerned… I was dead, and while Kristin didn’t believe it… I do know that she got lonely… and you were there for her.  You comforted her when I couldn’t.  That… considering all the circumstances… means a lot.”


“I… uh… you’re welcome…” I manage to say.


“So you can relax, Downey.  Let’s enjoy our beer.”


I smile and nod.


“So…” I begin after taking a long swig of my beer.  “What are your plans?”


“We’ve talked a little about relocating to my island… after we renew our vows…”


“Renew?  You two are married?”  I hope I sound surprised.


“Yeah.  We eloped… four months before the seaQuest was taken.  We were planning on announcing it at the end of my tour.”


“I see.  Well… belated congratulations,” I lift my beer in salute.


“Thank you,” Nathan lifts his bottle in imitation then takes a drink.  “There are only two things I know for certain.  One, we’re getting remarried.  Two… I’m never leaving my wife and son again.  And everything else… can work itself out.”


“Sounds like a good plan to me.”


“I thought so.”


“Uncle Nathan?”


We both turn at the sound of Caesar’s voice.


“Yes, kiddo?”


“Aunt Kristin asked me to come get you…  Nate has fallen asleep and she would like for you to carry him back to the house.”


“Gee, not even home a full day and already she’s ordering me around,” a large grin forms on Nathan’s face.  “God, it’s great to be home.”


I can’t help but chuckle at the twinkle in his eyes.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Nathan this happy… the ten missing years withstanding.  “You’d better get over there,” I gesture back towards the pool.


“You’re right,” Nathan says then downs the rest of his beer and takes off for the pool.


“Come on,” I gesture to Caesar to join me and we follow.


We arrive at the pool just as Nathan is scooping Nate off the lounger and into his arms.


“We’ll catch you two tomorrow,” Nathan calls back to us.


“You bet.  Have a good night,” I tell them.


“Good night,” Kristin smiles at both Caesar and I.


“Good night, Kristin,” I say then watch as Kristin loops her arm around Nathan’s waist and the two walk slowly down the path to her house, carrying their son.


I’ll have to be sure to close all the windows tonight, ‘cause something tells me that even with Nate in the house… those two won’t be keeping quiet.  Just before they disappear from view, I see Kristin’s hand fall to rest on Nathan’s ass.


“Dad… maybe we should have offered to keep Nate with us…” Caesar comments with a grin.  “I have a feeling that Aunt Kristin isn’t planning on letting Uncle Nathan get too much sleep tonight.”


“I think you may be right.”


“I’m gonna go hit the sack now too, dad.”


“Have a good sleep, son.”


“You too,” Caesar replies and gives me a quick hug then takes off into the house.


I stand there for several long minutes, staring at the now empty path.


I sigh.


I always knew it was nothing more than a dream… even with the few times she came to me… but part of me still hoped.


I’m glad Nathan is home, and I am glad he and Kristin are back together.  They really do belong together… anyone can see that.


Even me.


But it still doesn’t stop the hurting.  I don’t think that will ever stop.


I sigh again.


I am happy for her. 


Really… I am.




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