… the Saboteur, an Epilogue…
I woke slowly. The warmth of my bed was sweet and comforting…I really didn’t want to leave the cocoon of softness that surrounded me, and in my less than aware state, I didn’t recognize the reason for the extra warmth. Then, when my perceptions sharpened, I felt the arms that were wrapped so tightly, so lovingly around me…
He had come to me last night. It was well after 0100 and the doorbell rang. I was asleep and I was startled to wakefulness. Taking my robe from the bedpost, I slid into it, and padded my way to the door. I was fearful, not thinking of him at all. I was in all truth frightened. ‘Who could be at the door at this hour?’ When I opened it, my submarine Captain was standing there, looking more ill and haggard then I had ever seen him.
He wore his khaki work uniform, and had his cover under his arm. His right arm was in a black sling, and his face was so profoundly sad. "My Love!" I was so startled I could barely whisper. I took his left arm and gently led him into the room, closing the door behind him. "My Love…" I said again…
He sat hard on my sofa, dropping his cover on the table. When he looked at me, the look in his eyes tore at my soul. He was in such pain, and it was not pain from his wound, whatever that was. This was a deeper pain, one that was tearing at his soul. He sat for a time, staring out, the benumbed look never leaving his face. Reluctant to disturb him, but anxious for him, I sat on the floor, next to him, my head resting on his leg. Abstractedly he laid his hand on my head, and began to gently caress it. I reached for his face, and laid my hand against his cheek. Forever prone to thinness, the planes of his face were sharper, the circles beneath his eyes deeper, and I knew that once again he had lost needed weight. My heart was aching for him, yet I wanted him to feel free to tell me what brought him to my door. This time it was not our love, our passion; this was something else.
He sighed, and swallowed hard, and looked down into my upturned face, with a grief I have seldom seen in anyone. In a soft voice, so soft I had to strain to hear, even in the silence of the room, he said, "I tried to kill him!"
"Who, Lee, who did you try to kill?"
"The Admiral. I tried to shoot the Admiral. I wanted him to die, and I was supposed to destroy the boat." The grief in his voice at his actions was unmistakable. He looked at me, and all the unshed tears over whatever had happened were brimming in his hazel eyes, and when he blinked, they began to fall down his cheeks. "I had to leave the boat, I don’t know if I can make myself go back…I had nowhere to go…no one to turn to … I came to you, because…."
"Because you can always come to me, My Love…always…" I slid onto the couch, and under his arm and he tightened his grip. "I betrayed my country, and even worse, I betrayed him! I tried to kill him!"
"Did the Admiral send you away?" I asked him quietly.
"No! He didn’t. He said he wouldn’t. He said he couldn’t… That he didn’t want to, didn’t need to… He said that he knew that I didn’t do all that I did willingly, that I had been brainwashed, forced into it… He told me the command is mine as long as I want her… He told me that I love her as much as she loves me, and that I would never willingly endanger her, or him. He called me lad, and he called me his friend… How do you justify doing that to a friend, or someone or something that you love? Do you know how much I still want her? But I can’t go back! I betrayed her, and Him and the country… What will the men think? How can I expect them to take my orders after what I did?" The depth of his pain was overwhelming me… I loved him, and all that he stood for and represented. To see him going thru this pain was almost more than I could bear. "Tell me, my love, tell me what happened…"
And he began his tale of the brainwashing, and the conditioning, and all of the events on the boat. Forrester, the man who was in charge of security was even now moving heaven and earth to try and get his security status revoked. He didn’t trust Lee. He was in fact, the man who had shot him. Lee told me that it was the shooting that had broken the control of the brainwashing and conditioning. He wasn’t angry with Forrester at all. In a way he sounded grateful to the man for putting an end to his torture… and My Love was tortured, still, by his actions. He had not shot the Admiral. He had tried, but his loyalty and love for the man was too great for any conditioning to make him do that. But the very fact that he had tried to do so, was causing him all this pain. And the fact that he felt he had betrayed his boat, his men, his country. I knew what highly moral man he was, and how much he valued all that his oath stood for, and knowing that, I understood how he felt.
There was another question that I had to ask him, but I still hesitated. Finally, "My Love, was the Admiral unforgiving, does he hate you now that this has happened?"
"No…When I said that I felt like I had betrayed him, and my country, he told me it was nonsense! He said "Nonsense, Lee, you couldn’t help yourself, you were brainwashed! You weren’t responsible for your actions." He sighed again… "And Chip, he forgave me too, they both did, they treated it as if it happens every day, as if you try and kill your mentor, involve your best friend, and destroy your command, the command that you’ve dreamt about and finally achieved! Can’t you see you see that I am responsible? I am responsible for what I did! I have betrayed them all…. the Admiral, Chip, the men, and the boat! All of them!!!" and he wept…wept as I had never seen him… I was at a loss; I did not know what to say to him. The people that meant the most to him had forgiven him. His boat was going to be fine… the thing he had to do now was to forgive himself, and that is the hardest of all things for a man like him to do. So I let him cry. I waited, till the tears were spent, and he had returned to that lost, glazed look. I moved closer to him. I reached for his face, and again ran a hand over it, now that it was wet with his tears…
"Lee," I said to him softly, "Lee, My Love, it is time for you to forgive yourself… You were not to blame in this… It was not your fault!" He pulled me closer, and asked in an almost childlike fashion, "You aren’t going to send me away, are you?"
I smiled at him, hoping that it was one of reassurance. "No, My Love, I could never send you away… I love you. All that you are, and all that you are yet to be. You are my friend, you are my love…you will always be that…wherever you are, what ever you are doing, what ever I am doing, I will love you. You deserve that. You certainly have earned the love and respect of your men and your boat… did any of them turn on you, after all this happened? Did any of them change how they felt about you?"
"I… I don’t know, I don’t think so. There were a lot of the men coming into the Sick Bay when I was in there, asking how I was doing, and telling me that they cared, and that I should take my time to get well."
"Did anyone, anyone at all that is your crew, or your staff tell you that they mistrusted you or that they thought that you were at fault?"
"No," he answered me softly.
"Lee, your men love and respect you…so do your officers, and so does your Admiral…. No one, no one at all blames you or looks at you differently than they did before all this happened. I am certain that when you return to your boat and your friends they will all be anxious to have you back… no one sent you away, Lee. No one believes that it is your fault… Only you have that belief, my love… I know I certainly don’t, and I know that the others in your life don’t either."
And with that, careful of his shoulder, I wrapped my arms around him and drew his lips to mine. I kissed him, gently… and he returned the kiss, tentatively, then more hungrily. His arm around me tightened even more. "I love you, Lee Crane…. I believe in you. I would trust you, I do trust you with my life, you have my heart and soul." He kissed me again, and then looked into my eyes, his amber-hazel ones boring into my soul, searching for some small grain of mistrust. He found none. I was completely truthful when I said that to him. His body relaxed, and some of the tension I had felt fled.
I reached for his necktie, and loosened it, and began to unbutton his uniform jacket. He let me do those things for him, and then he said, simply, "Thank you." I merely nodded, and continued to take off the tie, and tried to help him with the jacket. The sling on his right arm presented a problem, and I looked at him, and asked, " If I take this off for a while, will it hurt you, my love?"
"No," he hesitated, " I don’t think so. I have to wear it so that I don’t use the arm, and tear up Jamie’s handiwork… he said that the entrance wound wasn’t too bad, but the exit wound was a mess. The bullet bounced off and chipped a couple of bones in the shoulder…" I looked at him, at once fearful of touching it and hurting him further. "Go ahead," he said gently, "I’ll let you know if it hurts. I need you, my love… I need you!"
Taking that cue from him I began to release the sling from his neck, carefully, ever so carefully easing it off of him, and placing his arm on his lap. I slid his jacket from his good side first, and then concentrated on taking it from the injured one. He didn’t make a sound, didn’t speak to me, just watched me…His eyes following every move I made. In the course of taking off his jacket, my robe slid open, and he reached inside of it and cupped my left breast, his fingers lightly stroking the nipple through the fabric of my nightgown. ‘Damn! I’m wearing this old grey thing!!’ The gown I had worn to bed was a grey ribbed cotton sheath with thin straps, meant to be worn when sleeping alone, not with one’s lover. He didn’t notice… No, not that he didn’t notice, …but rather, he didn’t care… What I was wearing wasn’t important to him…His fingers were sending light flashes of electricity through my body… I wanted him now, as I always want him, but I had to be careful, so very careful this time… not only of the wound to his shoulder, but of the wound to his heart and soul… I wanted him to know and accept that he was loved, and that I loved him…without qualification…. I began to unbutton the uniform shirt, and slid my hands beneath the shirt to caress his chest… as I slid my hands along it, I struck a large and bulky bandage… Its size and thickness startled me…. My fingers followed the bandage, and the gauze wrapped around his chest, and holding an even bulkier bandage to the back of his shoulder. "I thought that you said it wasn’t a bad entrance wound."
"It isn’t. It’s just Jamie’s way of being careful…" I was on my knees now, on the couch, straddling one of his legs, carefully trying to remove the shirt, and not to hurt him. He laughed at my efforts, and pulled me to him. "Stop…" he laughed softly in my ear… " Let me get up, and let’s go into the other room, I think that we’ll both be more comfortable." He rose slowly, and enfolded me with his good arm…he held his right arm to his waist, letting it rest where the sling normally held it. I knew, then, how much pain the wound was still causing him. I molded my self into his side. I loved him so! And he must love me… he came to me when he was in pain…he sought me out… He must love me as much as I love him…
In the bedroom, he sat on the bed, mussed from my restless sleep, and smiled, a caring, loving smile… "When you are alone, what do you dream of?" he asked me…
"Of a silver boat, and her dark haired captain," I answered, "who, I am afraid, will leave me one day for her…." He ran his hand down my back and caressed the skin softly, his fingers stirring delicious sensations up my spine.
"She will never take me from you, that I promise. Seaview is not in competition with you. I do love her… I have a tie to her…I don’t understand it, but I’ve known it since I came aboard." He looked at me sheepishly as I sat next to him. "I …talk to her… I let her know how much I care for her… How much I depend on her…and at night, when my watch is over, I walk her, from the bow to her most aft compartments, port to starboard, to make sure she is ok… I talk her along the way…stroke the bulkhead, …and any time I leave her at her mooring, I say goodbye, I touch the coaming, and tell her I’ll be back." Embarrassed at revealing such a private part of himself, he looked at me, searching for the laughter, the derision that such a revelation would bring…
But I did not laugh at him, I found it to be just one more part of the puzzling man that he was. My father had been Navy, Old Navy…but he believed that a commander should always have a connection to his boat or ship… "Take care of her, and she’ll take care of you, boys!" he would lecture his class… and his boys did take care of their ships… Just like Lee did.
"You don’t think I’m daft, do you?" He asked me seriously. With all truthfulness, I could say to him, "No, I don’t. My father taught his classes to take care of their boats… he was Old Navy…it seems the ‘New Navy’ still uses the old ideas… I don’t think that it’s daft at all…." I paused searching for what to say to him next… "She needs you too, the two of you fit together…"
He shifted slightly, and held me closer to him, and his voice became strained, and oh, so sad… "You haven’t seen her…her nose…the metal plate that covers the window that Parker blew out…I felt like she was staring at me, that she didn’t understand why I let this happen to her…I don’t know if she will forgive me…." He lay back, leaning against the brass headboard, a pile of disjointed pillows behind his head and back… he sighed, and I lay down next to him, carefully letting my arm fall across his chest. He was crying silently, his face wet with new tears that the memory of the damage to his boat, his lady, had brought. Again, I waited until the tears stopped, and then, boldly, I moved against him and began to kiss his face, following the track that the tears left on his cheeks. Softly, I murmured… "I am sorry, my love…so sorry… but if she loves you, she will understand… I’m sure she will… and Lee, I love you… I want you to know that I love you in all the ways that it is possible for a woman to love a man…I love you…" I kissed him, fully, and warmly, letting him know how I felt. I moved my hands along his back, his chest, being careful of the wounds, yet showing him how much I wanted him… He returned the kiss, as warm and full of longing as a kiss could be… I knew then that I had to let him know how much I believed in him, and in his love. "My love," I whispered as I showered soft kisses on his ear. "Let me lead you…let me love you as you have loved me so many, many times…. Let me!"
His arm circled my waist…and he groaned, a groan of desire, of anticipated pleasure. I slid out of my old nightgown, and then lay at his side, I eased the shirt off his good arm, and then off the bad shoulder, and arm. I bent my head down, and began to run kisses across his chest, leaving a trail of warmth across his flesh … he shuddered again, and then held me close…
"I love you…" he whispered, ”I love you…. I want to be with you…I need you…"
"I know, my love, I know…." was my reply, as I let my hands slowly drift to his waist, and unfasten his belt and pants. "I need you too…always, my love, always."
He took my face in his hands, and drew my lips to his, gently touching, then hungrily capturing them… his tongue tentatively probed my mouth, and then more firmly began to explore. Our tongues met, and somehow, melded, until neither one of us could breathe. We pulled apart, and I laid my head upon his good shoulder. My hands had succeeded in releasing his pants, and again, surprised at my own boldness, I raised myself and knelt next to him, and eased his pants, and his briefs from him. Then, still kneeling I bent over him and began to lay light kisses all over the lower part of his body, his legs, his thighs, and his groin. I stopped there, and began to kiss the head of his penis lightly. He groaned, his hands caressing, and stroking my body all over. I shivered with anticipation. Moving slightly, I concentrated on using my tongue to bring him to a hardness that was unfamiliar before this night. He was groaning with pleasure, stroking my body, my hidden place, his long fingers gently at first, then with stronger strokes as his passion rose. I was so wet, so ready for him. I stopped my tongue and he moaned… in a quick movement, I shifted my position, and moved above him. Grasping him gently, I guided him to me, and lifting myself slightly, I mounted him. He filled me, and I slid onto him, until I could take no more of him, and then I pushed down further. I needed all of him within me… All of him. I moved my hips in a circular motion, grinding down, and he moaned again, reaching for my breasts. Catching each in his strong hands he gently squeezed, and kneaded them, running his thumbs back and forth over the tips of the nipples. I shuddered with pleasure. I began to move in a slight up and down motion, my senses swirling. The heat of his hands on my breasts, the heat of the contact, of him filling me, of me riding him, harder and harder, and then the crescendo of light, and heat, and the wonderful warmth of him filling me with his essence pushed me over the edge of the light, and sent me sailing to a height I had not known I was capable of reaching. I cried out, in pure joy, and knowing that he had reached his peak, I lay down, on him, keeping him inside of me.
He wrapped his arms around me, and held me close. "Thank you." He whispered. His hands drifted low, stroking my back, and buttocks. I shivered again in plain delight of his touch. I pushed my self up and looked down at his face. He smiled at me. "You are wonderful." He said, and ran a finger from my cheek, slowly down my face, my neck, to my shoulder, and to my breast, where he circled it several times…He pulled me slightly closer, and took that breast, and pulled it into his mouth, first licking it, then teasing it with his teeth, then sucking vigorously at it. I moaned. He stopped, and kissing his way across my chest, he gave my other breast equal attention. I moaned again, and he pulled me toward him… I could feel him hardening within me, and looked at him, slightly surprised… "You drive me crazy!" he whispered, and in a swift motion, he turned us, together, and he was atop of me, smiling a lazy, lustful smile…"Turnabout is fair play!"
He stated in a voice that was husky with lust. He rode me, slowly, each thrust driving deeper and deeper into me, each thrust driving me closer and closer to a second height, even greater than the first. Then, with an unexpected suddenness, I was there! I reached out, and I was over, warmth and brightness filling me. From afar, I heard him cry out in satisfaction, and felt the pressure of his body atop of me. This time, I encircled him in my arms, and shifting so that we both would be more comfortable, held him close, as we drifted into a satiated sleep…
Now I lie awake, his arms holding me tightly to him. I don’t want to leave him; I don’t want him to leave me…yet I also know that the leaving is inevitable. We are too different, too strong in our own worlds. We will come together again and again, but we will not be together forever. We will always love and need one another. I will always, always be there for him. Yet I know that someone else, someone who can meet all of his special needs, will share his life and make him happy, so very happy… not that I couldn’t, but that it simply isn’t meant to be. I am happy with what I have of him. I regret none of what we have, what we share…and I know that we will have more time together. Yet my perception of our time together is bittersweet…he truly is the love of my life, and I would give all that I have up, if he would but ask. I know that he won’t. He is too proud to ask, and I am too proud to tell him so. This is what we have… we will find happiness in whatever place that fate decrees, but it will not be in each others arms… and for that I am profoundly sorry, my love…my dearest love…
© Linda Delaney. 1999. Don't reproduce it without permission.
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