"Sink or Swim" Part VIII 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 they?" 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 you?" 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 homecoming. ~~~~~~ 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 weather. 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.