Learning to Trust

(You are the Breath of My Life)

 by Cerylia Bliss  

 

If I should meet thee,

After long years,

How should I greet thee?

 

George Gordon Byron

 

 

This is a WHN. My story begins where the episode, "The Lost Bomb," ends.

 

<><*><>

 

Seaview's missile rooms speakers crackled to the familiar voice of Captain Lee Crane. "Mission accomplished, Admiral. Request permission to return aboard?"

 

Admiral Harriman Nelson quickly walked to the mic, with a broad smile his features reflected great relief. "Permission granted, with pleasure."

 

The chambers light switched from red to green, an indication of the equalization of pressure. Chief Sharkey grasped the wheel turning it hard and heaved open the hatch. Captain Lee Crane along with Seaman Kowalski stepped through the missile room escape hatch. They lightly touch there neoprene covered feet to Seaview's steel deck, grateful they were back in familiar surroundings.

 

The pair were met with smiles and handshakes after everyone had thought the two men had been lost along with the destruction of the Vulcan. "We thought you were dead," stated a visibly relieved Chip Morton.

 

"We managed to escape just before you fired on her." Crane searched the room, his eyes finally settling on Admiral Nelson.

 

Nelson's taut muscles relaxed as he caught sight of Lee's handsome face. No one could have been more thankful than Admiral Harriman Nelson, Lee Crane's longtime friend and lover. Nelson gave Crane a gentle slap on his back. Leveling a piercing gaze on Crane from his ocean blue eyes, his concentration devoted to the Captain. "Good to see you both alive and well, Captain."

 

Harry could not help but show his enthusiasm over Crane's survival. His eyes sparkled, and a broad smile creased his features. "Have Doc check you both out." Touching Lee's shoulder once more for reassurance, he turned to depart the missile room with a marked spring in his step.  

 

><I><

"Nelson to control room.”

 

Reaching for the mic bracketed on the side of the plot table, “Yes, Admiral.”

 

"Lee, can you come to my cabin when you are free? I need your report on the enemy sub."

 

Morton straightened and looked over at Crane. "It's quiet Skipper, go. I can handle things here." Chip had known for years that Nelson and Crane were lovers. Harry was anxious to see Lee alone, after coming so close to losing him. "I'll call if there's an emergency."

 

"Yes, Admiral. I'm on my way." He secured the mic, before turning to Chip.

 

"Very well, Chip. I won't be long." Crane gave a sweeping glance over the control room, dropping the pencil on top of the scattered charts.

 

"Take your time, Skipper. I know he's anxious to speak with you." Chip smiled, his voice going to a whisper. "You didn't see his face when he thought you were dead." Chip recalled the pain on the Admiral's face when the enemy sub exploded. "He thought when he gave the order to fire on the Vulcan, he had killed you and Kowalski, along with the Vulcan's crew. He needs to see you. Go, I have the con."

 

"Thanks Chip." Crane turned and crossed to the stairs leading to the upper deck.

 

><II><

 

In the corridor outside Nelson's cabin, Lee straightened, ran his long fingers through his short cropped hair and adjusted his tie before he knocked.

 

A rap sounded at Nelson's door. "Come," he answered.

 

"Admiral, you wanted to see me." Lee stood framed by the silhouette of the door, waiting for Nelson's reply. But the Admiral simply stared at Lee's elegant body, his olive tan skin, short black curls so neatly controlled, and his hazel gold eyes. Harry lost himself, captured by those eyes. 'I could have lost him today.'  "Is Chip in the control room?"

 

"Yes, sir, it's the beginning of his watch."

 

Standing from his desk chair, "I take it,  Doc cleared you and Kowalski?" Harry was making small talk when all he wanted to do was to take Lee into his arms and love him. "Come in, don't stand in the doorway." It sounded like an order. 'What's wrong with me? Give the man a break!'

 

"He did, sir. Kowalski caught a bullet in the shoulder. Doc said it's not too bad, he'll be back on duty in a few days."

 

"And you?" Nelson couldn't help feeling a hint of pride towards his Captain.

 

"A few bumps and bruises, nothing serious." Stepping forward, Lee entered Nelson's cabin. Out of habit he closed and locked the door behind him. As he continued to stand by the door he gazed into Harry's eyes. "Admiral?"

 

Harry stepped forward taking Lee's hand and stroked the long fingers, the hands Harry loved so much. "I've been call to Washington, Lee. I need to leave, as soon as we dock." Nelson Smiled up at the tall dark haired Captain and proceeded to brush Lee's face lightly.

 

"Can't you postpone it? We had plans to spend a week at the beach house."

 

"I'm sorry, Lee, the President ordered me to Washington. He insists on an immediate briefing regarding the Cesium Seven bomb, the Vulcan and Bradley's involvement. It's simply out of the question to refuse." Harry reached and ran his fingers up through Lee's dark curls.

 

"I know, Admiral, but there is nothing that says I have to like it." Lee voiced his disappointment.

 

Nelson chuckled. "No, there's not."

 

"How long will you be gone?"

 

"No more than three, four days, possibly a week," Harry replied, knowing how the Captain would react.

 

"A week!" Lee exclaimed in protest.

 

Harry watched Lee. "It can't be helped. Duty first, you know that... We'll have time. We can go to the beach house for a few days after I return." Harry looked up and kissed Lee. Giving up his struggle, not to fight his instincts to take Crane and ignore the rest of the boat. "Tomorrow I leave for Washington but right now I crave to be near you, to experience your power, your passion and your love."

 

 Harry raised Lee's hands to kiss them again. "You know if you hadn't escaped that sub when you did there would not have been enough of you left for me to bury." Harry pulled Lee close, he ran his tongue over the Captain's lips before kissing him, their tongues sliding together, lost in the taste and scent of each other.

 

Breaking the kiss, Lee breathed into Harry's ear. "But I did escape, Harry. I'm here, love." Lee let the older man draw him closer; strong arms surrounded him, hugging him hard against the broad chest. Harry cupped Lee's tight buttocks, bringing them even closer, feeling taut firm muscle under the Captain's uniform. His hearts desired to run his hand over Lee's hot bare flesh. It felt so comforting and safe to feel Nelson's body, sinking into the familiar warmth as the Admiral's strong grip encircled him.

 

"I'm terrified something is going to snatch you out of my life one day and I'll never see you again." Harry couldn't shift the uneasiness that ran through him. Lee had returned safe but for how long? He guided Lee to the narrow bunk, leaning the Captain back. Lee didn't resist, both men were too aroused to stop now. Harry grabbed Lee's shirt, pulled it out of his belt and trousers. He began to run his hand across Lee's chest. Harry gulped air. "I need to get these clothes off you."

 

"Admiral, you do realize, Chip knows we're here?"

 

Harry paused raising his head to look directly at Lee. "Yes, and no doubt he knows why as well. He's an intelligent man, besides he won't let anyone disturb us, at least for a while." A wicked smile stole forth, and a twinkle of amusement ran across his face. "Captain, do you want me to stop?"

 

"I don't think, I can, stop," Lee pulled Harry toward him as he yanked at the Admiral's shirt releasing it from his pants, "are we throwing caution to the wind, sir?"

 

"I am indeed, this once. I'm making an exception in light of the extenuating circumstances. " A small hitch in his tone gave his fear away. "I'd truly thought I'd lost you forever today." Harry's voice softened, swallowed by overwhelming emotion and it drifted into passion.

 

Free from pants, shirts and shorts, the Captain reversed their positions, taking masterful control, possessing and claiming his lover’s body. Pushing Harry onto the bunk designed for one, Lee lifted his lover’s legs. Leaning down, Lee rimmed the tight pink opening, reaching to lick the sensitive skin. Holding on to Harry, Lee reached for the lube, liberally coating his fingers. He slipped two slick fingers into the tight recess, followed quickly by a third. The muscles relaxed. Harry squirmed against Lee's intrusion, whispering, "I need you." Lee placed his cock at the entrance to Nelson's body.

 

Harry groaned, a sharp intake of breath told Lee his partner was enjoying this too, losing himself. Lee mumbled, "I love it when you want me...so hot and tight." Harry's narrow channel welcomed Lee, receiving him, inviting him in. His thoughts focused on the connection between their bodies. Gasping, he thrust deeper. Harry's body gripped the bulk of Lee's hard hot sex.

 

Nelson was lost, drifted on the waves of heat and pleasure, thrilled as his body was penetrated, his face radiated passion all the while staring into Lee's beautiful eyes.

 

Lee focused on the intense sensations, looking down at Harry through hooded eyes. The Captain set a steady rhythm with his cock expanding as he felt Harry move beneath him. "Oh, Lee." The muscles across Lee's chest glistened with sweat as Harry kissed and fondled Lee sensitive nipples, worrying them to pebble hardness adding to his pleasure.

 

 Lee bathed Harry's tight channel with cream. Harry pulled Lee closer. Passion burned in Nelson's eyes as he covered the Captain's lips to smother his intense reaction. Pain and pleasure shattered into a thousand pieces, it all echoed through Lee's senses. "Lee, I'm so close...I need you, please."

 

Lee brushed and teased the rosy head, licking drops from the tiny slit. He leaned forward, relaxed is jaw, taking Harry's cock into his throat, licking and sucking, relishing the glorious taste as he drank from Harry. Nelson tangled his fingers into the dark short curls. He whispered, "Oh God, Lee."

 

Lee delighted in the shivers that spread through Harry as his body erupted into Lee's mouth, drinking every drop of the Admiral's cream. Reaching up he kissed Harry with his own fresh cream on his lips. Breathlessly, saying. "I love you." He collapsed across him gasping for air.

 

When both of their bodies calmed, Harry turned on his side giving Lee room to snuggle closer into his arms. "I'll miss you."

 

Nelson cast his eyes low; he angled his head gazing down at the lush line of his lover’s eyelashes and chuckled, "I would hope so." He ran his palms lovingly over Lee's back. "But right now we need to get up and soon. We can't stay here, eventually will be missed, someone will come looking for us."

 

Lee burrowed closer on the small bunk. "A few more minutes," he pleaded.

 

"Up Captain," he ordered.

 

A sly smile crossed Lee's lips, "In case you hadn't noticed, Admiral, sir. I was, up."

 

"Yes Captain I had noticed, how could I not." Harry smiled. "You know perfectly well what I mean. You need to hit the showers and get dressed," Nelson suggestively nudged Crane off the bunk.

 

"Yes, sir. Aye, sir. What every you say, sir." Reluctantly Lee climbed off the Admiral's bunk, he bent over to retrieve his clothes that lay abandoned on the deck. Grinning back at Harry, "Enjoying the view?"

 

"Very tempting, Commander. But it won't work." Harry beamed back, the layers of his voice held amusement as he popped Lee's ass. The Admiral stood retrieving his own discarded garments. "Get dressed, Captain. We have a boat and crew which requires our attention."

 

><III><

 

Lee stood by the mirror in his cabin, a slight frown on his face as he knotted his tie, straighten his collar and picked up his jacket. Snapping his brief case shut he turned off the light. He was to meet the Admiral in the control room for the final hand over of Seaview to the NIMR security team.

 

After Seaview docked and Harry had collected a few things for his trip, Lee Crane accompanied Nelson to NIMR's small air field. Harry watched as the light breeze tugged at Lee's hair pulling it free and wild. Harry held back his urgent need to touch his Captain, clearing his throat and mind. "I'll see you in about five days, Captain. I'll expect updated status reports from you regarding repairs to Seaview."

 

Lee wanted desperately to hug the man one more time. They had said their goodbyes in the Admiral's apartment where he was to stay for the next five days until Nelson's return. "You have the number of the hotel? And the apartment key?" 

 

"I have them right here." He patted his shirt pocket where he had placed the card and the key. Lee smiled. "I'll be right here waiting for you," giving Nelson a devastating look. A look that Harry loved. It never failed to weaken Harry's knees.

 

 

"Captain, I could never forget that you are waiting," Nelson gazed long and hard wishing he could kiss him. "I'll be home as soon as possible." Pausing a moment. "Well, that's it than." At a loss for words, Harry repeated. "Lee, I'll be back in a few days."

 

Extending his arm they grasped hands. Lee poured all his emotions into that firm but caressing grip. "Aye, sir. Have a save trip."

 

><IV><

 

Chip met Crane at the front of the Institute's Administrations Building. "Lee, did the Admiral get off on time?"

 

"Yes, and I miss him already."

 

"I have no real plans for the next week, other then checking in on Seaview and repairs." As they both stopped at the entrance, "How about a couple rounds of golf or maybe racket ball tomorrow?"

 

"Okay, you’re on." Crane opened the building entrance door and presented his badge to the guard on duty. "Meet you at Seaview at oh seven hundred. After we check on the maintenance and the repair crew, we can go on to the country club for some golf." Lee clipped his badge to his uniform jacket as he called for the elevator.

 

"You'll see this week will fly by quickly," Chip flashed his badge at the same guard. "The Admiral will be home before you know it."

 

Reaching their floor Lee exited the elevator. "I have a stack of paper work to go through. How about dinner later? Say around five?" Turning left he preceded down the hall to his office.

 

Heading for his own office, Chip grinned. "See you around five."

 

The Captain's secretary greeted him, "Good morning, Commander. Did Admiral Nelson get away on time?"

 

"Yes, he did. Thanks." Keeping his voice casual. "Are there any messages for me?"

 

"Yes, sir." Bustling out from behind her desk, she handed over a small stack of messages.

 

"I've arrange to have all the Admirals calls sent through this office." Crane turned towards his office.

 

"Very good, sir," sliding herself back into her desk chair. With a slight frown she turned and reached behind her desk, retrieving a large manila envelope. "Sir, the Admiral left this for you. He said you'd know what to do with its contents."

 

Taking it he smiled, "Thanks."

 

><V><

 

By the weeks end Lee and Chip had played golf, tennis and racket ball, gone out to dinner three nights in a row and he'd spoken to Harry by phone several times. He thought, 'Chip had been right the week had gone by swiftly.' as he hung up the receiver, 'but I've missed you Harry and you'll be home tomorrow.'

 

The evening before Nelson's scheduled return, Lee and Chip were out for dinner and drinks. Chip had called the night before insisting they go out just to get Lee's mind off his absent Admiral.

   

After dinner Crane began to consume a great deal of alcohol. "Whoa there, Lee, take it easy with that stuff." Chip assumed it was because he was missing Harry so much. Chip knew the Admiral and his Captain were lovers and understood Lee's feelings.

  

Chip Morton was an old friend, college roommate, and now the XO on Seaview. But Chip loved Lee, an unrequited love. He knew deep down nothing would ever come of it. To Crane he was simply a good friend. Lee only had eyes for Harry. Morton respected both the Admiral and Captain of Seaview. He'd never consider coming between them or do anything to destroy their happiness. He resigned himself to that reality long ago.

 

As the evening wore on Chip noticed that Crane was becoming a bit unstable on his feet. "I think you've had enough, sailor, it's time to take you home." Morton guided Lee to the exit, practically pouring his commanding officer into the car seat.

   

Lee didn't bother to argue, he quite frankly couldn't summon up the strength. Slurring his words, "Not home, back to Harry's." Crane was insistent on going back to the Admiral's place.

 

><VI><

 

Morton pulled out his ID, handing it to the guard. "Is that Commander Crane, sir."

 

"Yes it is. He's not feeling well, thought I drop him off."

 

"Very good, sir." Immediately they were waved through the gate.

 

Morton pulled into the parking garage, dropping Crane by the elevator.  As Lee got out of the car, Chip could see how unsteady his friend was. Thinking to himself, ' he's never going to make it to the apartment, not in his condition.' Chip yelled from the drivers side. "Lee, you okay? Need some help?" When Lee didn't respond, Morton jumped out of the car to take Lee's arm guiding him to the elevator, intending to get Crane inside and settled. "Okay, buddy, let's get you upstairs."

 

 Entering the front door Chip tried with no avail to sit Crane down on the sofa, but Lee insisted on going through the bedroom into the master bath. “No," shaking his head, "bathroom!”

 

While crossing over the entrance to the bath, Crane closed his eyes, and began to breathe slowly through his nose. He swallowed convulsively as he fought the urge to be sick. "I think I'm going to be....oh." Lee held tight to his stomach as it cramped. He stumbled when his body flushed. With force he doubled over, vomiting onto the tile floor.

 

Chip grabbed Lee by the shoulders concerned that he could fall. Crane turned and the second round landed, to Morton's surprise, on his pants and shoes. Chip quickly steered Lee to the basin as he retched and heaved until nothing was left.

 

"Easy, Lee." Chip held onto Crane's shoulders to steady him. "Are you okay?"

 

Lee gasped out of breath, simply saying, "Sorry."

 

Once Lee's stomach had emptied, he experienced a sudden chill but he began to recover. Reaching for the faucets, "I can do this, you need to change." With the water running he removed his soiled shirt and proceeded to wash his face and neck. Lee called out to Chip. "In the closet, left side, there is a stack of sweat pants. They should fit you. Help yourself to what ever you need."

 

Lee found another robe and handed it to Chip saying, "I'm really sorry about all this." Eyeing the mess on the floor, "I think you need this more then I do." Chip accepted the offered robe.

 

"Don't worry about it," as Morton removed cleaning supplies from the cabinet under the sink. "You go take a shower. I'll clean this up." Crane's embarrassment caused Morton to hesitate. Tossing the Captain a stern gaze, "You heard me mister, now go..." 

 

"Aye, sir." Crane gave him a sloppy salute. "You needn't be so pushy. I'm going."

    

While Chip cleaned himself and the floor, Lee took a quick shower to remove the sourer smell from his body while the water helped to clear his head. Stepping out of the shower his feet made contact with the cold tile floor. He slipped a towel around his waist intending to put on an old pair of warn sweats that he had placed across a nearby chair.

  

He then offered the shower to Chip. "You should do the same. We're both a mess." Turning, he walked toward the kitchen with a slight smile.

 

 Chip exited the shower putting on the robe and pants Lee had offered. Grateful to be clean again, he headed for the outer rooms. "How are you feeling now? You do look a little better. You've got some color in your face. For a while there you looked as white as a ghost."

  

 Seated in the large arm chair in the living room. "Better, but I need some coffee. You want some? I just started a pot."

   

The aroma of the percolating coffee wafted through the air. "Yeah, coffee sounds great. I could use something to clear my head. Thanks."

  

 As Crane stood he swayed, "Whoa," placing his fingers to his temple. "I guess I'm not as recovered as I thought." Getting his footing he headed for the kitchen, looking back at Chip. "I'm sorry about all this...thanks; you’re a good friend for putting up with me."

 

With two mugs in hand, he passed one to Chip. "Think nothing of it, what are friends for...?" Lee seated himself on the sofa while Chip took the armchair. They drank in relative silence. "I should be going, Lee. Do you think you can get along without me?"

 

"Yeah, I'm fine. But you don't have to go. We can watch TV. I'd really like the company."

 

"Okay, I'll stay for a while." Turning on the TV. "What's on? What would you like to watch?"

 

"I think there's a ball game on tonight. We've missed most of it." Lee glanced down at his watch. "But we can catch the end." Before long both men fell asleep in the living room.

 

><VII><

 

 Nelson knew he was dancing here, anxious to return home to Lee. Perhaps they could salvage a few days of leave, spend what remained of their time at the beach house before responsibilities forced them both to return to work at the NIMR.

 

Admiral Harriman Nelson hurriedly picked up his bag from his hotel and headed for the limo that had been waiting to take him to the airport.

  

He had spent the last week in Washington in Senate meetings by request of the President. Finally everything was settled to the satisfaction of the President and himself.          

 

Nelson was now on his way, headed for the airport to board the NIMR jet. Soon he was bound for home and his beloved Lee.

 

 Harry tried to bring Lee along as often as possible to Washington, so they would not be separated for such an extended period of time. Circumstance made it impossible this trip. It was all last minute and very rushed; things just hadn't worked out as he had hoped.    He always wanted Lee along, just so they could be together. They had so little time between long missions at sea, their work at the Institute and Harry's frequent trips to the Capitol.

 

Regrettably Lee stayed home this trip. He had stayed in Harry's apartment on the pretext of house sitting. Harry always found it difficult to be parted from Lee. But finally he was on his way home, one day early to surprise his Captain.

 

As his car pulled up to the NIMR gate. "Good evening, Sir." The guards greeted the Admiral at the gate. "Good trip, Admiral?"

 

"Yes, and I'm happy to be home." Checking his security pass the guard waved the car through.

 

"You have a good evening, Admiral." Nelson was eager to see Crane. It was late but Harry knew Lee would be at the apartment.

 

Admiral Nelson walked in, his smile quickly faded, as he surveyed the scene. He observed the obvious, the undressed condition of Crane and Morton and he could smell the distinct odor of alcohol.

 

Harry stopped dead in the doorway, dropping his bag, anger flashing in his eyes. "What's going on here?" His voice rose in pitch. "Is this what you do when I am away?"

 

Nelson's jaw clenched tightly, outrage shot through Nelson like a current. "Lee how could you betray me like this...?" His eyes narrowed perceptively, demonstrating his disgust. "You've been toying with me this entire time, playing on my feelings for you. It's obvious you've been lying to me." He paused, his gaze combative, his temples pulsed, it became difficult to hold on to any shred of his composure.

 

Lee stared in numb disbelief, striving desperately to push the words out, "Admiral...Harry. Please calm down..." Crane tried to explain but it was obvious Harry was not listening. Lee felt physical pain as Harry hurled accusations at him.

 

"It's not what you think. Chip stayed to help me." Every word of explanation Lee tried to utter was cut off by Nelson's raging jealousy. "Please calm down and listen to me."

 

Harry's voice boomed. "I will not calm down." He defiantly stared at Lee, willing him with a steady glare to be quiet. His penetrating gaze shifted, blazing a path between Lee and Chip as if searching for the words. "I can see what kind of help he offered."

 

Crane could not believe what he was hearing, didn't want to believe what was happening. It was as if the floor dropped out under all reason, his shock evident. Feeling the blood drain from his face, his hands began to shake. All his military discipline kicked in. All at once, he folded his arms, took in a reasonable breath. His features became inscrutable, and he assumed his command face. All the while Harry continued his tirade. Although the anger and fear ripped through Lee's heart, his rational mind told him Harry was serious. Lee felt as if he'd been stabbed, bleeding to death under Nelson's icy stare. His features remained practiced, never showing a hint of pain.

 

Tension crackled in the air as if a volcano had erupted. "Harry, please." Nelson's blue eyes, which always held warmth when looking at Lee, were now cold and hard. Crane stood there motionless, staring at the Admiral. Lee stood frozen in that horrible moment, as if turned to stone.

 

"Don't!" Abruptly Nelson slammed the door on any explanation Lee could give. There seemed to be nothing he could say that would have convinced him.

 

Harry turned and retreated, exiting through the same doorway he had entered a few minutes ago. As he walked out his face turned fiery red with fury. "Both of you, I want you out of this apartment and out of my life. Don't be here when I return." Harry's words were sharp, his voice rang with the unmistakable note of finality as the door slammed behind him.

 

The Admiral's words were followed by the loudest silence Lee had ever heard. Lee caught the fallout, a soundless explosion. In utter shock, Lee stood there for a long moment, not able to move. A flicker of chill ran through him as he absorbed it's impact and Harry's harsh hateful words.

 

Chip threw Lee a look, breaching the charged silence. "You need to go after him and explain, you can't leave it like this..."  Chip didn't continue, he bit back any additional comments. Chip stared, shaking his head in stunned disbelief.

 

Realization thundered down on Crane. He shook his head in frustration. No doubt he  understood clearly that it was over. He slowly picked up a few of his things. Lee could just make out what Chip was saying over the pounding cry of his own heart. "Tell the Admiral I'll send for the remainder of my things. I'll be at my house if I'm needed." With the Captain's announcement his eyes filled with dark distress, the rims glistened but he forcefully held back the tears.

 

Lee forced his body into motion, while he drew in a long quiet breath, letting it out slowly, followed by a lengthy quiet. Head cast down, command face gone. His voice escaped from his lips in a whisper. "Admiral Nelson made himself perfectly clear. No matter what I say, Chip, he will believe what he wants to believe. No amount of explanation will sway his opinion." Wobbling a little as he attained a better footing, a flash of panic rushed through him as he started to leave Harry's apartment, maybe, he thought, 'for the last time.'

 

"Lee," Chip implored. "You can't mean that. When he understands the situation better..." Lee seem to pull himself together, his command face reasserting itself but he remained oddly pale under his olive complexion.

 

Lee's eyes burned with repressed tears. He threw back, turning to face Chip. "I tried Chip. It seems he doesn't care any longer, nor do I. It's best I take some time...for myself." Lee's wounded voice had audibly faltered with the last few words dying in his throat. Dueling forces raged inside Lee. The first to run to Harry, do as Chip urged, explain. The second to forge a shield, intrinsic to self preservation.

 

Chip opened his mouth to say more. One withering look from Crane obliterated the idea. Morton immediately shut his mouth again, not to speak another word.

 

Lee's hands were clenched in white knuckled fists, trembling, than they began to shake. Barely able to control the bitter surge of his own emotions. It felt as though his muscles had forgotten how to respond to his brain. Lee turned shakily. Crane grasped the door knob, he shuttered as if to regulate his own breath and walked out. The door clicking shut behind him. Lee was a mess. He felt broken as his anger fizzled out.

 

><VIII><

 

Nelson felt so enraged he couldn't believe what he had witnessed. He asked himself the most obvious of questions, 'what other signs could there have been? We'd been separated for mere days. Nothing that drastic could have changed in a matter of days. Had this been going on all along...? Had I been that blinded by Crane's attention...? How could I have missed the clues? I thought we had something real. Had Lee been thinking about someone else when we had made love? It all seemed like a cruel joke...' He laughed. 'Yes, a joke on me.'  

 

As his anger ebbed away he became aware of his own exhaustion. He headed for his office, he needed to go somewhere, to be alone. His weariness did not however extend to his thoughts. All the questions continued to whirl around in his mind, giving him no respite.

 

><IX><

 

When Nelson returned to his apartment hours later he found Lee's things were gone and a letter had been placed on his desk. It was addressed to Harriman Nelson. With shaky hands he tore open the envelope.

 

 Harry,

Chip was just being a good friend. He wanted me to go out to dinner and drinks that same evening. He knew I was missing you and wanted to cheer me up. I had too much to drink and was not capable of making it home on my own, so Chip brought me home. I was feeling quite ill and never made it to the bathroom, vomiting on myself and Chip. Chip remained to help me. At that point we were both a mess and in need of cleaning up. But nothing happened between us. Chip stayed as any good friend would, to lend moral support. That is what you walked in on, it was all perfectly innocent.

 

But what you said to me... the accusations after all we have had together, have been to one another. How could you believe that of me? Your rage and jealousy, I thought we loved one another, made promises to trust one another, I thought forever. I'm not sure what we had was real, if it could be broken that easily? Harry, I'm sorry forever was so short. I love you. I always will.                                                      

 Lee.

><X><

 

With the bitterness of the argument free in Lee's mind he drove to a nearby gay bar. The evening breeze carried the lingering heat from the day as the sunlight receded.  The warmth had slipped from the world, leaving behind a chill in the air. Crane shivered as he ascended the few steps, nervousness rapped in excitement followed him through the door. 

 

The moment he enter the smoke-fill room he took stock of his surroundings. In front of him a sea of round wooden tables. Dim light cast shadows across the floor, revealing a rather empty room. Only a few couples sat at the candle-lit tables. Nearly all the patrons clustered around the large bar in the center, all for the purpose of cruising. The low ceiling bounced the echoing of tangled voices back to the floor and scattered a din through the room.

 

Lee froze where he stood. His thoughts carrying him into a fog. The small voice in his head shouted at him, not to do this, not to continue. One last thought slipped past. 'Don't betray Harry this way.' Crane's anger swiftly brushed the voice aside as he approached and sat on a nearby bar stool ordering a drink.

 

"Can I buy you a drink?" The sharp voice of a stranger invaded Lee's thoughts. His words sent a shiver through Lee's body. He hadn't formed a single thought or feeling about what he was about to do. That alone happened to be disconcerting, on its own. "You're new in here. Aren't you?"

 

 "Haven't been here in a while." A shutter rocked its way through Lee, traveling down his back as the stranger ran his hand over Crane's shoulder. Taking in a deep breath he calmed himself. Swallowing hard, catching his breath, "I have one, thanks." Picking up the glass he lifted it to his lips and sipped.

 

"If you’re interested. I'll be around, gorgeous." He trailed a suggestive finger across Lee's thigh.

 

Lee turned on the bar stool, sizing up the competition that clustered around the bar. Running his eyes over the room, he spotted the unmistakable interest, directed at him.

 

It didn't take long for the seat beside him to become occupied again, this time by a tall dark brunette. "I come here often. Haven't seen you before. Can I get you a refill?"

 

"Yeah, thanks." Lee's eyes were drawn down to his hot and ready equipment.

 

"Want to tell Tony your troubles?" He ran his hand across Lee's bulging erection. "Eager, aren't you? Just the way I like em, hot, hard, and most definitely ready."

 

"Nothing to tell."

 

"You didn't come in here for the booze and the scintillating conversation. Not dress like that." Crane's jeans were tight and suggestive, holding close to his crotch, displaying a well defined basket.

 

"I'm still shopping around." Lee stared into the ice at the bottom of his tumbler.

 

"You're ready to burst." Tony grabbed at Crane's hand, placing it on his own heavily aroused genitals. "And Tony would like to be there when you do." He paused a moment reveling in the excitement of another man caressing him. "Think I can handle it, handsome?"

 

"Maybe."

 

"I'll show you a good time. Don't have far to go, we can use one of the rooms in the back."

 

Lee's needs were insistent as the two men travel down a long hallway spaced with closed  doors. "Here we are." Tony used a key to unlock the door pulling Lee inside. As the door close Tony pinned Crane against the wall, hungrily taking Lee's mouth, demanding, kissing, pushing their crotches together, grinding in to Lee's hot hard organ. "Need to get those pants off."

 

While Tony worked at Lee's pants the little insistent voice returned. Lee groaned as he started to ride the pleasure. He shook his head in an effort to expel its pleading cry. "No!" Crane shouted as he detached himself from the shadows. He closed his eyes, taking another breath as if he were fighting to hold something deep inside. For the briefest of moments the pain took his breath away, along with his burning needs.

 

"Okay, man, okay! Tony never needs to beg." Lee stalked away without another word retreating into the dark hall. Crane realized he was about to step over that invisible line, a line once crossed, there was no going back.

 

><XI><

 

Lee wandered somewhat blindly after his rather hasty departure from the bar. Standing at the top of the beach under the star scattered sky, he looked out over the silent shore, feeling utterly alone.

 

A silhouette of the crystal moon reflected off the wavering surf. A fluttering breeze kissed his skin like silken wings, snatching at his hair, lifting his wayward curls. He folded his long legs under him, sitting onto the hard packed sand. He wrapped his arms around his legs, making a tight knot. His head rested, bowed against his knees. Lee huddled alone on the sand listening to the surf hammer against the shore line.

 

A great weight of sadness road the waves twisting in the night. Its chill settled into the depths of Lee's heart. Bleakness washed over him, his hurt so deep he had to forcibly remind himself to breathe, shaken to the core. The emptiness would not go away. He had taken a chance and opened his heart. After all the waiting, all the years wasted, to be torn apart. Images of happier times dance through Lee's mind; he had to remind himself that they were merely treasured memories.

 

Just as the rising sun timidly peeked above the horizon, Crane struggled to his senses, pulling himself together; he pressed his palms to his aching head, shuttering in the absence of chilled air. The hours had slipped fluidly by; his muscles felt cramped from sitting, coupled with inactivity and built up tension. His body seemed reluctant to obey his commands as Lee contended to rise. Once standing he turned and walked the warn path leading from the beach towards the house.   

 

When he finally arrived at the house it was dark, the creeping sunlight had not reach through the windows. Inside nearly silent, except for the echo of the surf, the sounds of the water rippled, far in the distance. Its sonority mingled softly with his own harsh breath.

 

Lee could feel the tension from the shock drain away. He could hardly believe what had happened. Bone tired he decided to go to bed, 'My dreams have to be an improvement over yesterday's bitter events.' To his dismay, sleep fought his disturbed emotions for several hours before it ultimately won the battle. Lee allowed sleep to dull the sharp shards that pierced his shredded feelings and continued to drive deep into his heart.

 

><XII><

 

Early the next morning Chip Morton sat in Nelson's office. "Admiral, what you walked in on was innocent. I freely admit that I have feelings for Lee, but he's made it perfectly clear nothing will ever come of it." Morton carried the expression of a man navigating a mine field, half expecting his words to blow up in his face. "I respect you both enough not to pursue Lee in that way. Even I can feel the emotional field between you. The love is strong, strong enough to touch. I believe you belong together."

 

"Chip, I understand that now." Morton nervously watched as Nelson walked around his desk, closing the distance between them. "Do you think Lee would speak to me if I called him?"

 

"I don't know, sir. He's pretty upset." Chip motioned to the letter on Nelson's desk. "By the tone of his letter...what do you think? You know him as well as I do...maybe better."

 

"I think, I behaved disgracefully. I wouldn't speak to me if I was Lee." Nelson stared at Chip with desperation in his troubled blue eyes. "Would you speak to him? Let him know I am sorry for all the hurtful words. Ask him to call me when he is ready?"

 

Morton took pity on Nelson, not able to ignore the Admiral's obvious pain. "I can promise to try. That's the best you can hope for. You do realize it may not be enough."

 

Harry couldn't manage anything it seemed. Everything had slipped horribly out of control with  no means to stop it. "There is nothing left, but to try." The anguish he felt in the pit of his stomach grew, if possible, even deeper.

 

><XIII><

 

The persistent ringing woke Crane out of his restless sleep. His eyes abruptly snapped opened as he groggily snatched up the phone, trying to focus his blurry vision. "Lee, did I wake you?" It was Chip.

 

Lee cleared his throat finding his voice. "No, not really. You know you can call me at any time."

 

"Ah, the Admiral is looking for you, Lee. After he calmed down, I took a chance, went to see him and we talked. I explained to him what actually happened." Chip infused his last words with optimism. "He wants to talk to you."

 

"So why didn't he call me himself?" Sleep had produced no additional clarity. The pain continued to cut through his heart and mind until he thought he'd be sick.

 

"He didn't think you would speak to him," Chip made one last effort. "...that you'd hang up before he could get the words out."

 

"Thanks, Chip." He knew even with the best of intentions, there was no possibility of escaping his problems. It still felt like a nightmare, one he could not wake from regardless of how hard he tried.

 

"Lee, what are you going to do?" The Captain let his query sit suspended as the silence grew oppressive. "Lee, are you still there?"

 

"Yeah." He tried to shake it off, the vivid images that drifted through his mind whenever he stopped to think. He had to fight it, distance himself. "I have nothing left, Chip."

 

"Yes, you do. You have plenty left. You just can't see it. You're in shock." His voice rose sharply. "When the shock of all this fades you'll see things clearly."

 

"Chip, I honestly don't know. I don't want to be here." Weighing his own mood, he expressed himself carefully, “I really should go Chip, thanks for your concern but it's my problem." Crane said firmly. "I'll talk to you soon." Trouble was he couldn't say much of anything coherent, not at the moment, as if his mind and his words had run dry. No amount of Chip’s well-intended help would fix what had happened. He only understood a tiny fraction of the chaos tied up in his own emotions. He knew he missed Harry; the truth is he felt as though a part of himself had been ripped away. He could give in, go to Harry, but what about the next time. He couldn't ignore the jealousy, forgive the hurtful words.  

 

The Captain abruptly hung up the phone as he envisioned how his departure would play out. He wished with every fiber of his being that he could go back, reclaim the past few hours to grab hold and tug in the opposite direction, never to achieve this particular point in time again. He closed his eyes for just a moment, realizing all his dreams had disappeared.

 

Abruptly coming out of the haze, Lee rose unsteadily to his feet, attempting to untangle his thoughts. Lee searched for the calm inside himself. He closed his eyes and made a decision, focusing on something productive, formulate a final plan. After all his fate was his own now.

 

><XIV><

 

Asking for forgiveness had never been easy for Harry but he never had the opportunity.

   

 Nelson had been informed by Chip Morton that Lee had gone. "I tried to talk to him. He simply wouldn't listen. He said he needed time on his own." Gazing into Nelson's troubled features. "He feels like he's lost it all, leaving him with nothing."

 

"That's not true he has..." Harry growled. "I knew it would be a long shot. Thanks for trying, Chip." Nelson stood walking around his desk perching on its corner. "Chip, will you take control of Seaview's day to day operations? As her Captain?"

    

Reluctantly Morton agreed. "Yes, sir. I'll only take the position as her acting captain. Just until the Skipper returns." He couldn't imagine Seaview without Crane.

 

"You do realize that scenario may never happen." Harry's eyes cast down at the prospect. Saying it aloud to Chip, brought the reality painfully home. "I do have several feelers out, inquiries into his whereabouts." The Admiral eyed the phone, silently commanding it to ring. "I'm hoping someone has seen him."

 

"Any answers to your queries?" Lee had contacted Morton but he had never revealed his location, leaving Chip feeling inadequate when faced with Nelson's questions.

 

"No, unfortunately nothing." The Admiral sat down, sounding dejected. "I've found no leads that would shed any light to where I might find him."

 

"I'm sorry, Admiral. I wish I could be of more help. I believe, Lee doesn't want to be found." Crossing to the door. "I'll be on Seaview if you need me, sir."

 

"Before you go. I'll be taking a few days off to deal with some personal business." Nelson slapped the file shut that was sitting open in front of him. "I've asked Admiral Park to fill in for me. He will handle the day to day operations at NIMR. He will be over seeing a few of the contracts, keeping those projects on time and budget."

 

 "Yes, sir. When do you plan to leave?' Morton voiced no objections, however he did have concerns. He clearly felt it was not his place to question Nelson. If his suspicions were correct, Harry had plans to look for Lee himself.

 

"Roy is arriving today. I'll get him settled and I'll be off in the morning."

 

As Chip Morton passed through the doorway. "...then I'll see you when you return, Admiral."

 

The topper at the end of the day’s aggravation happened to be another dead end. Every inquiry Nelson had made came up completely empty. Chip Morton had been of no help. He had admitted to have spoken to Lee but either refused or didn't actually know where the Captain had gone.

 

 Nelson had not been this tired and this frustrated since before Lee had left. Nightmares had plagued him, almost every night he dreamed of Crane. Of Lee slipping away from him. The fog lay thick around Nelson's feet, darkness surrounded the edges. "Good bye, Harry. I'm sorry." the Captain would turn away dissolving into the shadowy mist. "No, come back!" Harry called after Lee, his voice echoed fleetingly before it died out leaving the murky air hollow around him. No amount of searching could find him. The imagery so disturbed Harry, that each night he forced himself to remain awake, until he had no choice but to sleep and relive the nightmare over again.


><XV><

 

"Crane." The commander’s voice and face were stern. "Nelson's been making inquiries about you. He's been pulling in as many favors as he can in an effort to attain any and all information regarding your location." The commander simply glanced down at the floor, in a sweeping motion lifting to meet Lee's eyes. "I didn't tell them anything; the Admiral gained no information from this office."

 

"Thank you, sir." The mere mention of Harry's name caused pain to well up in Lee's heart. He endeavored to keep the tremor of emotion from showing in his voice. "I appreciate your discretion."  

 

The base commander plowed on. "Nelson has powerful friends in the Navy. It's only a matter of time before he finds you."

 

"I understand, sir. And thank you again."

 

Lee Crane traveled the two levels down, to the exit. In the evening after work, Crane would eat at a local diner. Nearing the exit the sun lay low in the sky,  it played, drifting in and out of the white puffy clouds. Approaching the street outside the base, Lee spotted cars as they darted past, along with the occasional pedestrian walking a dog. No one spared a look in his direction and that's how Lee had wanted it, anonymous, essentially invisible. Crane was headed for one of the local establishments for dinner, as always he was alone. He sat at his usual table and ordered his usual meal.

One of the young waitresses named Linda, whom Lee had gotten to know in the past few months, approached his table. "Still dining alone, I see." Crane thought for a moment but never met her gaze. "I still haven't made many friends here," He quickly stifled a bright image of Harry's smiling face. 'I guess I'm not ready for any new relationships.'

"That's too bad. You seem like a nice guy, you should be out with friends enjoying yourself." She smiled trotting off to put in Crane's order. 'She never saw him with anyone. Never had the nerve to ask him out, or invite him for a quick coffee.' She had the distinct impression that Lee Crane was running away from something, possibly a difficult situation. 'Or perhaps, hiding from one.'

As Crane ate he barely tasted his food. He realized how alone he really felt. He wasn't up for small talk with strangers, or social interactions, although he always made friends easily. It wasn't that he was being anti-social; talk wasn't what he needed at the moment. He felt as though his life had ties to the past, making it difficult to move on. Lee had spoken with Chip a few weeks ago and was encouraged to find Morton had been placed in temporary command of the Seaview. Chip had assured him Seaview and her crew were doing well. He had added both crew and the sub missed him. 'Seaview, how he missed her.'

Nelson still had not returned to the Institute or Seaview, no one really knew where the Admiral had gone. Admiral Park was doing a good job filling in but he just was not Harriman Nelson.

Suddenly Lee's thoughts flooded in, 'Harry what happened to us? We were so in love. Why couldn't you trust me? Had I ever given you any sign that I wanted to be with anyone else but you? I loved you. Truth be told, I still do.'

 Looking down he realized he had completely finished his food. Checking his watch he wondered were the time had gone. Smiling to himself, 'where it always goes, deep in thought, missing Harry and Seaview, both he still loved.' He concluded being inside of his head was not the best place he could be at the moment.

He asked for the check, paid his bill, and wished the cashier a good evening. He strolled out the door with intentions of going directly home.

   

><XVI><

 

Exiting the restaurant he noticed the warm breeze that had drifted in from the ocean, making it a pleasant night to be out. The apartment he had rented was not far so he decided to walk. As he crossed the street he stopped abruptly at the faint sound of a familiar voice. It filtered through the air from down the block. Crane turned to see Admiral Harriman Nelson speaking with a group of high ranking officers.

  

 The Captain recognized several of the officers, having seen them at the naval base earlier that day. Crane had not been ready to return to active duty; in light of his reserve status he had been offered a civilian position in naval operations. He was testing new computer systems and helping to install the programming in the Navy's submarines. All in all, the job was in many ways what he had hoped it would be.

 

The Admiral had spotted Lee standing on the pavement, never losing sight of him. Nelson quickly said his goodbyes. At his last handshake and a promise to get together soon, he started quickly to cross the street to where Lee stood.  

 

Crane experienced mixed feelings as the Admiral approached him. He had a deep desire to see Harry, to see how he was doing, however his reluctance made him hesitate. Lee's memory raced back to the day of the argument, they had parted on such violent terms.

    

Before Lee could decide what to do, he looked up again and saw Nelson staring at him.  Harry peered directly at Lee, his face lighting up as their eyes met, throwing Lee a casual wave of his hand. Lee nodded, returning the wave. He couldn't help smiling back and he hoped he wasn't grinning like an idiot. Sobering, "Admiral." All the old feelings flooded back on Crane. Even in the dim light seeing Harry made his breath shutter. A lump caught in his throat, catching him completely off guard. It must have shown in Lee's face.

 

Harry's voice was calm on the surface but there was an undercurrent of concern beneath the words. "Lee, are you okay?" The Admiral stepped toward the Captain.

 

"Yeah, I'm okay. Just surprised. That's all." Lee took a half step backwards. He was shocked at his own reaction to the Admiral's proximity. "Chip said no one knew where you were. You had left the Institute without a word."

 

"I had business that needed my personal attention. I asked Roy to step in and help out for a few days." Nelson had left the Institute on the pretext of business. In reality he needed time to think, to get his life in order. He desired a clear head to continue his search for Lee and attempt reconciliation.

 

It happened to be sheer coincidence that Admiral Nelson had been attending a meeting in San Francisco. The gathering included some of the top brass from several branches of the armed services.

 

When Nelson moved forward a second time Lee didn't retreat. Instead he reached and firmly clasped Nelson's hand. Vibrant blue met hazel green, "Lee, how I've missed you."

 

Pulling back quickly, "I missed you too, Harry." Nelson gave Crane an odd look, he never expected Lee to admit so readily that he had missed him as well. If he were honest, Nelson strongly suspected that Lee wouldn't so much as speak with him. Nelson acted on the small bud of hope that had emerge directly in front of him. "Is there somewhere we can go and talk?"

    

Crane started to suggest a drink at a local bar but thought better of it. If Nelson really wanted to talk they would need privacy. "My apartment's not far from here, just a few blocks. We can walk."

 

Not trying to sound too anxious. "We can use my car. It's right here." It sat waiting a few yards down the street. They could have walked but this was an excuse to be alone with Lee. 

 

Crane hesitated for a few minutes, than surrendered to the suggestion. "Okay."

 

Harry's prevailing thoughts as they made their way down the street to the parked vehicle. 'I've found him.' "Lee, I can't believe you're here." His basic emotion betrayed a definite tone of relief as he spoke. "I've been searching for months. Chip wouldn't tell me where you had gone."

 

"How could he? Chip doesn't know." He seated himself in the back, opposite Nelson. The Admiral tried to extinguish the wave of guilt that boiled up from within him, the shame that it was he who had forced Lee away.

 

As the driver started the car, the Admiral asked, "Where do we go from here?"

 

"It's not far, just on the other side of the banking complex." Lee gave the driver instructions as the car pulled onto the street. Neither one spoke on the short trip to Crane's apartment. Being this close, Lee's heart ached for Harry, for both of them. For the first time in months hope peeked out of the dark clouds that had loomed around the Captain. Could they work this out, deal with Harry's jealousy? Get past all the hurt feelings and hateful words. Could he convince Harry that all this had been unnecessary?

 

The car turned the corner onto Sixth Street and the limo pulled up to a large brick apartment building. "This is it, Admiral." Stepping out of the car, "I'm on the fourth floor."

 

><XVII><

 

His first impression on entering Crane's apartment, it was unlike Lee's house in Santa Barbra, not the layout, but how austere it all seemed. No personal items lay about, not one photo. It didn't look lived in at all and it echoed of loneliness. It was merely a place for Lee to store belongings, and sleep. The thought sent a stab of pain through Nelson's heart.

   

There was of course a natural strain in the situation. Breaking the silence, Crane first offered Nelson refreshments, he proceeded to walk towards the compact kitchen. "Coffee, Admiral?" Neither really knew how to start this conversation.

 

With a half hearted smile, Nelson replied. "Yes, that would be fine."

 

 Lee's mind raced as he fled into the kitchen. 'This is damn awkward, what was I thinking? What do we say after all that's happened? Too much time has past. Maybe this is a mistake. But something in him calls to me. I have to try.'

 

 Lee picked up two mugs of coffee from the counter. Slowly he returned to the living room, still not knowing how they were going to start. How do you say all the things that needed to be said? "Admiral," handing Nelson a steaming cup.

    

Nelson turn asking, "Lee... um, how have you been?"

    

Lee responded, "I'm doing fine, working hard. My team and I are doing computer programming for the Navy. Mostly subs, it keeps me quite busy." His thoughts were desperate, 'if I let myself get too close, hold him, touch him or be held, if I take his comfort now, I'll lose my nerve.' Lee had an overwhelming need to take Harry in his arms, forget all that had happened and forgive. He bit back the vulnerability that tried to fight its way to the surface.

 

Lee blinked seeing Harry's eyes, and realized, he too understood how difficult this would be. Harry's face seemed to mirror his own. "Harry?" He knew what Lee was asking, although the Captain never voiced the words.

 

"Yes, Lee." Harry asked brow furrowed. More silence followed. It filled the air.

 

Lee had so many things to express to Nelson. "Harry, I have absolutely no idea where to begin." In a heartbeat of silence Lee gathered his scattered thoughts. As he did, he also built confidence to continue. "I've thought about this and you know I've always been understanding and patient. I don't know what else to say except, I love you, only you. I'm not going to find someone else because I found the one I was looking for, you." Gazing back at Harry's features with moisture clouded vision. Lee found comprehension looking back at him.

         

Nelson didn't counter, waiting to see if Lee had more to say. Another awkward silence as Lee's words hung in the air. Breaking the quiet, "Lee, I'm an old man, worn out by any standards. I wouldn't blame you if you were attracted to someone like Chip. He's your age and much more attractive than this old tired body of mine." Looking directly into Lee's eyes, "I see the way he looks at you." All those things he said about trust seemed hollow, words with no meaning. "You could have Chip or for that matter, anyone."

 

"Admiral, that's your insecurity talking." Crane was surprised at Nelson's ability to recognize the longing that Morton tried so hard not to reveal to the world. "Harry, I trust him, as I do you, with my life...In love with him. No. Don't you understand, I can't return those feelings? Yes, he's a good friend...like a brother." Carefully controlled anger splashed across his face. "I want you, only you. Why can't you understand, if I can have anyone I want, why can't that be you?" To Lee, Harry's soul was ageless.

 

His voice softened. "You're not old, not to me. Never old," Lee's tone held great warmth. All his anger had faded away. The words escaped his lips in a trembling whisper, "I love you, Harry. Only you."

 

The Admiral reached up caressingly, and ran an affectionate finger over the plains of Lee's cheek. A great weight of sadness fell across Harry's heart. He tried to will it away, nothing helped. Stunned by Crane's admission of undying love. "Lee, I had no idea. I'm beginning to understand...the depth of your feelings for me. Please tell me you can forgive me...come back."

 

Lee seemed to struggle over the words that followed. "I don't know." He believed that mistakes could be forgiven as long as the motive is understood. "I'm not blaming you." Lee stood staring into Harry's eyes. "You know I will always love you." This close to Harry made his heart beat faster and his body urgent with need. He couldn't give in to Harry's touch, not now. Crane hardened his resolve, drawing his head back.

 

Harry's hand dropped, his formally calm face now flush with emotion. Harry made a concerted effort to change the direction, steering the conversation. "Did you mean what you said?" He needed to know if Lee had truly missed him. Crane gave him a questioning look. Harry repeated, "Did you mean it when you said that you missed me?"

 

Lee had to admit he'd missed Harry...loved Harry. "Yes, I do miss you, 'and I love you.' I can't go through it again. I don't want to experience your jealousy, your rage ever again. That's why I've stayed..." he let his words trail off, unsure how to proceed, "....away this long." What if this all goes wrong?

 

Harry could clearly see the hurt he had inflicted on the younger man, all those many months ago. Lee's bright hazel eyes displayed it all, the love, the longing, and the fear that intermingled with both. Not fear of his lover, fear of the Admiral's rage.

 

"What I saw...What I walked in on... Lee, it defined all my doubts, all at once." Harry's emotions recalled all too well the sight of Lee and Chip that fateful night, that horrible night.

 

"Are you ever going to be able to move past those doubts?" Lee's intense gaze required an honest answer.

 

Harry paused, as though searching carefully for the right words. "I guess. I'll have to live with my doubts." He could in time possibly dispel much of the jealousy, he thought, now that he knew the depth of his Captain's love for him. 

 

"Is that the best you can come up with?" Lee looked at him with intensity, seeing Harry in a entirely new light, a level he didn't expect. Finding it difficult to articulate his feelings. They were all jumbled in his mind. "I...I never thought you capable of such jealousy...your insecurity about us, about me." Quietly. "It won't change, will it? The jealousy, I mean." Lee paused letting the question hang in the air as he struggled to understand. "It's always going to be with you, isn't it?"

 

"Yes. I believe it will, at least in some small measure." Harry never before loved anyone to this degree. "You do understand that the jealousy comes from loving you too much. Always expecting it to all be washed away by a more attractive younger suitor. I've never experienced this level of love before. It's new to me. I'm not proud of what I've done. Pushing you away as I did."

 

"You had no cause, nothing happened." Nelson could hear the anger and misery in Lee's words.

 

"I know that now. You have to understand...it looked..." The memories of that moment, as he walk through the door it all flooded back.

 

"It looked...but you wouldn't even listen to me." Lee's words sounded like a plea. "You blocked me out and jumped to your own conclusions without listening to me. You added to the hurt by walking out." Lee stated firmly. "Chip is only a friend. Yes, a good friend, but just a friend. I'm in love with you. No one else. How many ways can I say it, haven't I proven it with my actions?"

 

Nelson didn't need a reminder of the cold facts that Lee and Chip were friends, good friends. "Chip loves you...you must realized that, he has for a long time."

 

"Harry, I love him as a brother, I can't give him more. You have no reason to be jealous." Lee felt as if he were saying goodbye. He didn't want it to end this way. "There must be a way back for us."

 

 "This is getting us nowhere." Nelson sank into the nearest chair feeling defeated. The knot of uneasiness in Harry stomach grew tighter. 'Lee is right, I never gave him a chance.' He had in the process, exposed Lee to all his hidden insecurities, in a way, betrayed him. Lee couldn't hide the sincerity shining through his bright eyes.

 

A ringing silence pressed in on Harry. An awareness settled in, like dawn breaking over the horizon. He understood with great clarity, how much Lee loved him. How deeply he had hurt his lover. "Lee, I am sorry. I'm aware how hollow this all sounds." He loved this man beyond all reason. That was the problem. He'd lost his reason for fear of losing Lee and it frightened him.

 

"I thought we trusted each other, that you trusted me more than that," Lee murmured quietly.

 

"Lee, I've trusted you with my life. I have many times."

 

"...but not your love, Harry. You didn't trust me enough to keep our love safe."

 

"What else can I say other than I'm sorry. I know...I've hurt you..." Harry grunted. "I'll promise not to be stupid in the future." Lee could see that Harry was trembling.

 

"If you feel this kind of jealousy again, promise me you'll stop and think and you'll always allow me the opportunity to explain." Lee could see a glimmer of hope. He smiled, "What happened to the bold Admiral I know? Always ready to tackle any challenge?"

 

"He became trapped in the tremendous fear of losing you." The thought of losing his lover caused an overwhelming ache in his heart. "Can you forgive me? Can we start fresh?"

 

The expression in Harry's eyes and the pleading tone of his voice caused Lee's heart to melt. "Harry, I'm willing to try, but I want to take it slow." Once again, he could feel the pull, the charisma that drew him to Nelson in the first place.   

 

"I can agree to that. We can go as slow as you want, Lee." Harry gave Lee a small chuckle and a sideways grin. "How about dinner tomorrow night? Just dinner, get reacquainted. I'm simply asking you to share a meal with me."

 

"You know I agree with Chip Morton, Seaview and her crew 'and I' need you. She's not the same without her Skipper. You belong on Seaview, 'and with me, by my side always and forever.'"

 

Lee kept his voice firm, but could not stop the doubt that welled up inside. "Slow, Harry. Okay dinner, tomorrow night. We need to take it one step at a time." His face betrayed the slightest suggestion of a smile. "We can talk about the Institute and Seaview at dinner."

 

"You're right. We'll talk about all of it over dinner. Is that agreeable?" Lee could see the remorse in Harry's face... for how he had treated Crane...something he had rarely seen in his Admiral.

 

Harry's expression, miserable, a tragic look lay across his features. He lowered his head and spoke very softly. He picked his next words carefully. "We could start as friends, nothing more, until you're ready," he paused taking a deep breath, brows furrowed his voice grew a bit stronger. "I do want you in my life, in any way possible." Harry said somberly. If he did this wrong, he could do more harm to an already fragile relationship.  'I'll have him back,' Harry felt his own resolve in that...

 

Warmth flooded Lee at the depth of Harry's loving tone. He approached the Admiral, giving him a soft chaste kiss. "Agreed than, dinner tomorrow." This all felt shaky, fragile, as if one slight disagreement, like a stiff breeze, could topple it all to the ground, damaging it all beyond repair.

 

Harry smiled and his expression sparked a returned grin on Lee's features. "I can call you in the morning with the details, Lee."

 

><XVIII><

 

When the Admiral departed, Lee stepped into his bath and threw cold water on his face and willed his body to cooperate. Being in such close proximity to Harry always aroused him. Deciding to ignore his subsiding erection he showered, preparing for bed. As he slid between the sheets, Harry's words rang in his ears, 'I do want you back in my life, in any way possible.'

 

In the small hours of the night his mind conjured bright images, inspired by his deep longing for Harry. The scent of the Admiral, the feeling, the rhythm all lingered and intensified as Harry's sex expanded moving within him, touching his soul. He grasped Nelson's shoulders as they both ascended on the same swell, sending them to the highest peeks of pleasure. Nelson exploded into Lee's body, bathing his insides with hot cream.

 

Harry collapsed, gasping for breath, his chest raising and falling against Lee's body, sticky and wet with semen. "Oh, Lee, that was too much." Harry reached to caress the Captain's sweat beaded cheek. "I love you." he said softly.

 

Crane rolled on his side and startled awake, he remembered the feelings, the chilled air. Disoriented he sat up, his body wet with sweat, the sheets twisted around his legs. Forcing himself fully awake, he blinked the sleep away, gazing across his bedroom.

 

With a shock, he realized. 'It had been a dream, only a dream.'  Bringing home, in the bleak dawn the cold fact that Harry was not by his side. The anguish hit him like a wall, breaking his forced composure. Tears brimmed, winning their fight for dominance, silently streaking down his cheek. Fiercely he brushed them away. Lee lay there, wide awake, body exhausted but his brain swirled with a thousand racing thoughts. Lee closed his eyes and forced the images to recede.

 

In the night he felt the loneliness most of all. Its soft insistent whisper reached out from the shadows. Dreams at times show us the way, the truth of our souls. He closed his eyes for a moment, realizing all his dreams had turned to dust.  'No.' stubbornly, 'I'll not allow it to end this way.' Expressing a silent wish to find his way back.

    

><XIX><

 

It was a cozy restaurant, designed with privacy in mind. The interior dark, with a distinctive but tasteful decor. It consisted of many twists and turns, a virtual maze of tucked away tables with its hidden booths, all lending to its complete discretion and, of course, its charm.

 

The evening had started out awkward. But Harry looked very trim and handsome in his dark blue suit. At this sight, Lee attempted to wrangle his overloaded feelings and heart rate back in control.

 

Politely waiters disclosed their proximity to a patrons table with a small sound as they approached. Lee ordered another drink. He had no intentions of getting drunk; he simply needed a little liquid courage.

 

After the waiter took their order Harry asked for a bottle of champagne. The wine steward opened the bottle with great flare pouring the bubbly liquid into flutes. Lifting his glass Harry made a toast.  “When I’m away from you I am lost. But, when I’m with you I am lost in you. Here's to us and new beginnings."
  

Lee took a sip of wine setting the glass down. He placed his hand on the table, palm down, sliding it to the center. Harry did the same, meeting Lee half way. Touching their fingers together, soft blue met hazel gold eyes as they lost themselves in their depths, reawakening emotions too long dormant.

 

 Falling into a familiar pattern the night passed quickly with whispers and flirts that dropped into the quiet conversation of getting to know one another again. By the end of the meal Harry and Lee looked at each other as if no one else occupied the room.

 

Upon leaving the restaurant they headed for the parking lot. Harry turned in the semi darkness, "Lee, come back to the apartment for a drink. We could continue our conversation." Harry's eyes pleaded; all he wanted now was to be close to Lee.

 

Lee smiled, experiencing the same need to be close, not wanting to separate so soon. His eyes gleamed in the light. "Okay, I think that would be nice. There are things we need to say in private." Lee glanced around, guiding them both away from the lights. He took Harry's hand in his, he caressed the familiar touch. It sent shivers through him. "Yes, Harry, I think tonight we'll need more time." His voice filled with warmth. Bending, he lightly touched the Admiral's lips with his own. Harry felt his heart thump and he flushed as their lips parted.

 

><XX><

 

 Lee sat nervously in Harry's living room with his drink clutch tightly in his hands. To the casual observer the rich warm room appeared quite masculine, with dark wood paneling, floor to ceiling bookshelves covering one wall. Staged in front of the well appointed wall, a mahogany desk, to complement the desk a hand crafted fine leather chair. The carpet was plush, surrounded by hardwood flooring, a comfortable overstuffed sofa and matching chairs placed in the center of the room opposing a large fireplace. To Lee, Harry's apartment felt comfortable despite its expensive décor.

 

The familiar appearance of the room did little to dispel Lee's nervousness. He experienced a bit of restlessness, apprehension and admittedly fear, as he twisted his hands around his glass before placing it on the table. Lee rose from the chair to stand behind Harry. With no plan in mind he reached, wrapping his arm around from behind. Lee rested his chin lightly on Harry's shoulder. After one single touch, unable to stop, he pulled the Admiral close, simply enfolded him in a hug. Lee fought his own discomfort, willing himself to relax. "I've missed you, Harry." His heart began to pound fiercely, it echoed loudly in his ears, his voice quivered and he hesitated.

 

After several moments of silence Harry turned in Lee's arms, blue eyes looked up to meet Lee's expressive hazel. They were lit with an internal fire of love and lust. 'His lover looked so alive,' Harry thought, 'His hair mussed, his face bright with passion, a warm glow accentuated his tanned skin.' Excitement rippled through Harry at the sight. Every cell, every fiber, filled within him, his lips, his heart, ignited, set ablaze.

 

The Captain flashed that knee-weakening smile while gazing lovingly into Harry's vibrant blue eyes. He ran his fingers over Harry's soft lips, his face drew concerned. "My love, your trembling. Do I frighten you?"

 

Harry glided his hand up to caress Lee's cheek, "It's your fault...this close...you set me on fire."

 

Reaching down, Lee devoured Harry's mouth, assaulting him with lips and tongue. He explored every erotic inch of his lover's mouth, savoring the taste, letting the passion grow. "How's that? Is that what you wanted?"

 

Lee rubbed his hands over Harry's arms, every touch sensual, every embrace imbued with possession and passion. "Lee," Harry whispered, "Don't stop, just take me." Nelson couldn't hide the longing in his voice. He slid Lee's shirt down his arms. It flitted as it dropped to the floor. Nelson loved the feel of Lee's physique against him, bare flesh against bare flesh. It all led them in one glorious direction, to feel the ultimate joy. The joining of their bodies, becoming as one.   

 

Harry leaned against Lee's naked chest as the Captain's tongue slid over his ear lobe and whispered. "I love you," kissing him soundly.

 

Harry breathed, not stepping out of the orb of Lee's arms. "Since the first time we were together, you not only whispered into my ear, but into my heart. It was not your lips that kissed me, but your soul. Never to be parted. I do love you. "

 

The two men were not strangers to making love to one another. Being apart for so long it had the feel of their first joining. Harry guided Lee to the bed, laying him down on the light green sheet that so accentuated Lee's olive skin, the color highlighted the green in Lee's hazel eyes.

 

The Captain's desire rose as he watched his lover undress. Harry lastly slipped off Lee's briefs, letting his proud erection spring free. "Lee, you're so beautiful. I've wanted to do this for so long." Harry kissed Lee, first on his eyes, than he moved to each cheek and gently he came down on Lee's full mouth parting his lips, entering with his tongue.

 

"I've dreamt of just loving you, touching you."

 

Removing the remainder of his own clothes. Harry leaned down, not rushing, choosing to first slowly kiss down Lee's body, licking every erogenous hot spot he could find. Warming oil in his hands he lightly stroked along Lee's sides with the back of his fingertips, moving up and down from the waist to under the arms. Lee sighed, "Oh Harry. I love the feel of your hands on my body." Every inch of him demanded that the Admiral's hands and mouth be everywhere at once.

 

Harry's hands came down firmly, blissfully assaulting the tense muscles of Lee's neck, moving to his shoulders. He caressed his arms, one at a time, ending with the worshiping of Lee's hands, fingers licking and sucking each one. Coating his hands with oil once more, "Your skin is so beautiful; it glows as I rub oil onto it." Leaving no spot untouched, before opening his legs wider, letting almond scented oil trickle down his anus, Lee squirmed under the erotic stimulation.

 

Lee reached forward to stroke Harry's cock. He moaned as Lee cupped and than very softly rubbed his erect organ grazing the sensitive slit. In response Harry stroked up and down the crease of Lee's ass. The Captain's body rippled like a river under his tender assault. Lee shuddered and gasped. Hot blood raced through Lee's body. "Don't look at me that way."

 

Harry spread his stance a bit more, arching his hips giving Lee more space to explore. A wicked smile pulled at Nelson's lips. "And just how am I looking at you, Captain?"

 

 "As if you want to devour me," Lee felt a renewed wave of desire and shivered slightly, every nerve thrilled to life.

 

"It could be, that's just what I want." Nelson kissed him again, long and hard until Lee senses were burning with passion, stroking his firm silky skin, exploring his inner thighs, and the soft texture of his shapely genitals.

 

"Lee, I need to be ready for you." Lee devoted his attention to Harry by applying oil to his hard hot, throbbing organ, as it pulsed with life. "I want to feel your body all around my flesh."

 

The feel of Harry's index finger spreading, stroking the sensitive gland inside, was almost enough to send Lee over the edge. Lee could feel his own arousal as it beaded on his unattended head. "Not yet love; I want us to come together." Gripping the base of Lee's cock, slowing his pace as the rosy top glistened with moisture. Lee six inches of hardness waited for Harry's attention as his mind drifted in tune to his lover’s delicate ministrations. The thought of the pleasure being a breath away made his heart skip a beat, heightening his drive, his passion.

 

"I need to taste you," He leaned down licking pre-cum from Lee's cock. Reaching under Lee's writhing body, Harry inserted two than three slick fingers, teasing the tight opening, easing the passage. "You're so tight. Sucking the blood right out of my finger. It'll feel so good when I'm inside you, pulling the life right out of me."

 

Crane's craving grew stronger. The touch threatened his sanity. "I want you inside me, right now. Don't hold back. I want to be merged with you."

 

Sliding his fingers out, the muscles began to relax. Harry ground slowly into Lee, his body welcomed the intrusion. Fully impaling him until their hips were touching, nothing separated their bodies. Lee inhaled deeply as Nelson's bulk entered him. Harry slowed waiting for Lee to adjust, always mindful of not causing pain. Harry's mouth and fingers came down, pinched and nibbled, before licking and kissing Lee's nipples. Lee spread his legs wrapped them around Harry's waist pulling them closer. "I want all of you."

 

Lee drew him tighter as they made love, increasing the contact. The motion ebbed and flowed with every thrust and withdraw, as it heightened in pleasure. Gasping a little Harry thrust deeper. "My love, this is heaven. Want to bury myself in you. Make it last forever."

 

Lee bit his lower lip, rolling his eyes as the older mans cock convulsed and spasmed deep inside his body. Harry's cream suffused and flooded Lee's narrow channel. "Harry!" Lee cried out as they both were taken to the pinnacle of ecstasy, rising on the same tide of pleasure. With their bodies intertwined, Harry unloaded his life into his lover's willing body. Spilling his essence into Lee as they both tumbled over the precipice. Lee’s cock erupted, sending spurts of hot cream between their chests. Both sent over the edge by each loving stroke.

 

Harry lowered his soft warm lips to Lee's stomach licking his spilt cream. Lee found himself hungrily captured by Harry's mouth, as Harry returned the salty substance to his lover in a long deep kiss. Lee accepted the kiss and the creamy substance, tasting greedily, passionately, until they were breathless. "I always taste good on you." Lee relaxed, smiling into Harry's eyes. Harry collapsed over Lee's chest, completely spent.

 

Lee cradled the Admiral's head against his shoulder. Harry mumbled, "I promise I'll never let you go again." Their woven bodies drifted into a peaceful sleep.

 

><XXI><

 

Nelson gazed back at the sleeping Captain. Lee was tall and lean to Harry's short bulky frame but he found the differences beautiful. My red hair, blue eyes and fair skin a contrast to his dark hair and golden edged amber eyes. Lee was also quite a complement to the rooms surroundings of sea green. The light walls and the delicately cut Chinese rug gave the room an elegance, enhanced by the large faceted window that faced the ocean. He loved this view, both, out the windows and in his bed. A table and chairs added to the comforts of the room. With Lee asleep nearby, at last, Harry never wanted to leave unless they both grew hungry for something other than each other.

 

It hadn't been easy but he had Lee back, returned to him. It had been an unexpected turn of events, one Harry could not have predicted occurring quite so soon. But he'd certainly take it. Lee's soft anxious, innocent voice roused him out of his brief but pleasant daydream. "Harry, where are you?"

 

"Over here, by the windows, Lee."

 

The moonlight cast a silver glow over Nelsons body causing the ghostly light to form a halo around Harry's head. Lee stared at the beautiful illusion, not able to look away. "What are you doing all the way over there?"

 

"Watching you sleep. You looked so peaceful, so beautiful." A smile curled at Harry's lips.

 

Lee swung his legs off the bed and approached his lover. "Come back to bed. I missed you."

 

Taking Harry's outstretched hand Lee guided him back to bed wanting to forget the world once again. "No sad thoughts, no insecurities, not tonight love." Lee whispered.

 

"Just grateful I have you back." In a quiet voice, "I almost lost you twice. Once with the destruction of the Vulcan and again when I pushed you away."

 

"I said no sad thoughts. We're together. That's all that matters." Lee stroked his hand down Harry's face reaching in to kiss his warm lips. "Now come here and hold me, I missed you holding me most of all. ...always feel safe with your arms around me."

 

'So beautiful.' Harry thought as he wrapped his strong arms around Lee. "How can I resist?" Stroking Lee's hair, "You are always safe with me. I love you." Lee had reclaimed the safe haven his soul had craved for so long.

 

"I know you do, now more then ever. I love you, too." Lee's arms drawing them closer.

 

Once settled, Harry inclined. "Go back to sleep, my love." Lifting his hand Harry brushed an errant curl from Lee's forehead. "I'll be right here when you wake." As their bodies embraced, Lee tucked his head under Harry's chin and slipped back into a peaceful sleep.

 

In their slumber their bodies never strayed far from one another. Clinging together to each other, holding tight, as if afraid they would be parted again.

 

><XXII><

 

Yet he still had reservations... about Nelson...his temper, his insecurities and the jealousy. Harry had promised to always talk things out. Not to jump to conclusions.  Lee said quietly, "I'd like to come back to you and Seaview. But my contract at the naval base could pose a problem. It has eight months remaining. I have an obligation to fulfill it."

   

Nelson looked at him, not wanting to believe what he had just heard, “If you are truly serious about coming, 'he almost said home,' back to the Institute and Seaview as her Captain. I can take care of your contract as soon as I get back to my office. You could be aboard Seaview by tomorrow evening... or.... is that too soon?"

   

 Lee considered that a moment. He really had nothing keeping him in San Francisco except the contract. He had missed Seaview, the crew and of course, Harry. "That would be fine Admiral." As an afterthought with a little smile, he jokingly said, "I wonder if the beach house I rented is still available?"

   

The Admiral said, with a lighter heart and some genuine hope. "If that's the only problem... You're sure now, Lee?"

 

"Yes, Harry. I'm positive. This is what I want."

 

"Well, we can find temporary living space for you at the Institute or better yet, you can stay with me." Nelson thought to himself, 'Lee, home again.'

 

Taking Harry at his word, he released all his worries and breathed sleepily, "I fell like I'm finally home." Lee's face flashed the most radiant smile, as if the intervening months had never happened. "Home, where I belong," Relaxing his body letting it melt into Nelson's recumbent form. He curled himself around Harry's body, sighing happily, knowing they would always be bound together, heart and soul. He slipped off to sleep.

><XXIII><

Harry rolled over, and looked at the beautiful young man lying beside him. The dim light in the room accentuated his dark olive skin and dark hair. He delighted at the sighs Lee made in his sleep, both familiar and comforting. Closing his eyes Harry thought, 'Lee had given himself body and soul to me. Lee had opened his heart.' The Admiral needed to protect that trust, accept the fact that Lee would not stray, not go looking elsewhere for love. To the Captain, Nelson was his whole world.

Gazing down again he smiled. In this state Lee looked like a small boy, the image sat in contrast to his unshaven jaw line. Smiling he remembered their lovemaking of the night before. Lee's unshaven face as it blazed a fiery path against and down Harry's stomach.

"Lee," Harry quietly breathed. "It's time to wake up."

Lee's eyelids fluttered and his long lashes lifted to reveal smoldering amber eyes. He stared directly up into Harry's face seeming not to know him for a brief moment. "Harry?" Lee reached up a hand and gently stroked Harry's cheek, smiling. The gesture so touched Nelson's heart it gave a soft flutter in response. "What time is it? It can't be morning already?

"It's oh six hundred, my love. You don't want to be late on your first day back." Harry bent to delicately kiss Lee's cheek, delighting in the simple contact.

Lee grumbled, "Harry." He glanced up, looking to the bedside table where an antique clock sat. Grabbing hold of Nelson's shoulders he rolled them both over, "We still have a little time..." A wicked smile ran across the Captain's lips.

~~~~~~~

The End

Bliss - One who brings happiness.

Please share your thoughts about this story with me @. 

blisscerylia@aol.com