"Sink or Swim"

September, 1986
Gulf of Alaska, AK

Kate went in as soon as they finished pulling the line, making comments
about how if she had to be on this boat for more than another 24 hours,
she'd jump off and swim to shore herself. Although Sam knew she was
kidding, he couldn't help but become more nervous at the proclamation.

As before, after cleaning off the deck, the three of them tied
everything down that they could, then went inside. While Sam secured the
hatches in there, putting dishes into cabinets and making sure nothing
would be flying about, Steve and Elliot went up to the wheelhouse and
plotted their course into Juneau.

Kate was in the galley, trying to help Sam where she could. "You know,
there was a fishermen on one of the boats I was on - he was fine in this
kind of weather. But the moment he hit dry land, he'd get sick."

Sam looked at her, amazed. "You're kidding."

"Nope. Oddest thing I've ever seen."

"You feeling better?"

She didn't pretend not to know what he was talking about. "Yeah, thanks
for all your help. I was using that 6 hour stuff for so long that I
think I wasn't expecting how badly this new medicine would affect me.
I've always been really sensitive to medication. One pill will do me
where most people need two, and I should've figured..."

Sam shrugged, handing her the plates from the drain board so she could
put them away. "Well, that's okay, I'm just glad you're okay now that
the weather has gotten rotten again."

"I'm still a little nauseous," she noted, "but that just means all the
medication has finally worn off, for which I am extremely grateful."

They finished the tasks Steve had set aside for him and then he turned
to her. "I guess we're about done, then."

"All the soda cases tied down?" she asked mischievously.

He laughed, taking heart that she was feeling well enough to contribute.
"First thing I did. Nothing left to do now but wait it out."

She took a deep breath and nodded.

November, 1999
Stallions Gate, NM

Al stepped out of the Imaging Chamber to see Tina at her usual post. She
didn't so much as glance at him as he walked by and he wondered if Ziggy
was butting into his business. Again.

Verbena was lying in wait for him as soon as he left the Control Room.
"Al," she greeted him, falling into step beside him.

"Verbena," he returned neutrally.

"How's Sam and Kate?" she started. He knew she was building up to
something, but let her do it on her own.

"Oh, okay, for now, but they're in it for the long haul. Can't figure
out what happened and talking to Kate hasn't seemed to help. I was going
to go talk to Karen again and then go check up on the two of them."

"Well, that's sort of what I wanted to talk to you about."

*Now we get to it.* "What's wrong?" he asked with concern, thinking
maybe he and Karen should have called Bruce before he went to check up
on Sam.

"Ziggy told me about an unauthorized call going out from one of the
guest quarters - the one you assigned her to." They stopped at the
elevator door. "So I went up to check on it and it turns out she was
talking to someone named Cary Martel."

"Damn," Al fumed. "I should have seen this coming."

"Well, she got really adamant that she be taken into Santa Fe and
threatened to call the police if she didn't get out of here, and that
kind of thing. Ziggy's taken her phone line off, but we can't get her to
calm down. What's up with this guy?"

"He's aspiring to be her pimp," Al replied tartly.

"Seriously?" Verbena questioned in surprise, stepping into the lift as
it opened for them.

"Well, that may be an exaggeration, but he's definitely no good. He's
already in danger of going back to prison - no reason he could want her
to come back to him could be good." He rubbed his temples wearily. "The
only option I can see is get her to talk to her father."

The doors opened in front of them. "Maybe you should do that now," she
suggested, nodding to the corridor stretching out in front of them.

He nodded. "Have Ziggy hook her phone back up. I'll talk to you later."
The psychiatrist smiled encouragingly at him, then he turned and headed
towards Karen's quarters, wondering if he should talk to Bruce before
she did.

"Karen?" he called, knocking on the door.

It opened almost immediately and she looked up at him, her green eyes
flashing with anger. "You gave me your word that I could go back to
Santa Fe and see Cary again."

"Yes, I did," he agreed in neutral tones.

"So you're saying you lied to me."

"No, but I'm not leaving you there," he responded. "You're still a minor
and your father has given me the authority to protect you-"

"Protect me?!" she echoed. "You can't protect me," she spat the words
out as if they tasted bad. "Nobody can protect me from the past, can

He winced involuntarily at the words. "No, but with some work, you can
learn to protect yourself, but Cary isn't the one to help you with that.
You're a smart person, Karen Knox. What do you think?"

She finally stepped back, letting him enter the quarters. "I think it's
going to hurt too much to go home."

"In the long run, it's going to hurt more to go live with Cary. I think
you know that, somewhere inside of you," he responded calmly. "I think
you need forgiveness from your father for being there when Nick died. I
think you need an apology from him for laying that blame on you in the
first place, and you need to accept that apology. I think you need
forgiveness from yourself, for yourself."

"I'm not so sure I'll get that in my own house."

Al sat her down and locked his gaze with hers. "And how are you ever
going to work towards it from Santa Fe?" She squirmed uncomfortably. "I
spoke with your father. Your leaving did accomplish one thing: it let
him see clearly what was important in his life. It let him see that he
was losing you just as he lost Nick, but even more painfully. It let him
see how much he loves you. Won't you give him the opportunity to show

She hesitated, but he picked up the phone and handed it to her. "Call
him," Al instructed firmly. She swallowed and he extended his hand
further. "Karen, call him."

As if she was scared (scared of being rejected yet again, Al realized),
she took the phone and dialed. She paused even after Al could tell the
phone had stopped ringing, and she was trembling. Al put a hand on hers
and held it gently.

"Daddy?" she finally said. She was silent for a full minute, and then
her face began to stream with tears.

Al smiled and squeezed her hand. Then he left her alone for her

September, 1999
Gulf of Alaska, AK

Kate was lying on the galley bench, staring out the porthole. The
television was on with a movie Allen had put in almost an hour ago, but
she'd since turned it way down so it wouldn't disturb anyone else. After
twenty minutes, Allen went into the stateroom, pulled his mattress from
the top bunk (for which she couldn't blame him - it could really hurt to
fall that far, she was sure), and laid it on the floor. Then he picked
up the play she had abandoned earlier and started to read. Somewhere
along the way, he fell asleep, another thing that didn't surprise her.
Part of her felt guilty for having such an easy schedule while everyone
else was being worked to death.

She sighed and settled more firmly into her little space, trying to find
a position so that she wouldn't have to move at all in order to keep her
seat. The movie droned on, thoroughly uninteresting, and she began to
think of all the paperwork she'd racked up for herself. She'd opted not
to do it earlier because every time she sat up, she was so lightheaded
and dizzy it was almost unbearable, but now she was a good seven hauls
behind. With any luck, she'd be in Anchorage for a few days before
moving on to her next assignment, and she'd have plenty of time both to
get it done and to relax around people she knew, however vaguely.

She glanced towards the stateroom and noticed that the door was shut,
which meant she couldn't get in - there wasn't enough room to put a
mattress on the floor and still leave room for the door to swing open.
So she was stranded out here. That was fine, she decided, she could
sleep as easily in the galley as in the stateroom. *Maybe even a little
easier,* she thought with a grin, recalling a boat she'd been on where
the galley had acted as a second bed for all three deckhands.

Her mind returned to thoughts of the paperwork as she tried to recall if
she'd sent in her last batch of forms from her previous boat. Then,
suddenly, something clicked in alarm. Sitting up, she went to the small
window looking out over the deck. Sure enough, sitting on the cleaning
table was all her data for the entire time she'd been on board. She
hadn't done any paperwork and those deck sheets were the only place all
her information was located.

Still, in spite of the wind, all three sheets were clipped onto the clip
board and the table had a small wall, about three inches high, around
it, which would protect the data from being blown away. She tried to
comfort herself with that fact. Besides, the deck was tilting
dramatically and the last thing she wanted was to be out in that

With a sigh, she returned to her seat and tried to concentrate on the
movie. Elliot was up on watch, she was sure Steve was asleep, and, when
she cracked the door, she could see Allen, the paperback held loosely in
one hand, fast asleep. It was best just not to worry about it.

She lay there, she stared at the ceiling and tried desperately to forget
that a week's worth of work was sitting in an unprotected area outside.