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seaQuest: The Dawning
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A nurse was adjusting a machine when Jim rushed in. She turned, startled.
"Sir, you can’t be in here."
"That’s my sister. Yes, I can." Jim glared at her. The nurse matched his gaze for a moment, and then decided against arguing. The pressed her lips together angrily, and left the room, leaving Jim alone to walk over to Joey. Her eyes were open, but heavily glazed. She didn’t turn her head, or move, but her eyes slowly followed Jim as he came closer.

"Hey, Joey." He whispered, sitting down. "I guess it would be pretty stupid to ask how you’re feeling, huh?"
He saw her lips move as she tried to crack a smile. Jim sighed.
"You’re going to be ok, Jo. I promise."
Joey tried to shake her head, and winced. She licked her lips and tried to form words, but none came. Desperately she looked at the water glass on her bedside table. Jim got the message, and held the straw to her lips.
"Here." He said. "And yes, you ARE going to be fine."
"Jim…" Joey struggled. "Thank you."
Jim smiled.
"For what?" He asked.
"Being…here." Joey was trying to think in a straight line and everything kept moving in circles. She couldn’t remember what she had imagined, and what had really happened. Somehow, she knew that she was awake, but she couldn’t get words from her head to her mouth. Like those dreams that she had where she tried  to scream, but nothing came out but air. "What happened?" She managed.
"You don’t remember?"
"No…There was…a storm…"
"You landed in the water. Alex came back to get you and called for help. They brought you to the hospital."
"Alex…" She had forgotten that he was flying with her. "Is he…"
"He’s fine." Jim reassured her. "He’s dy…err waiting to get in here and say hello, but he’s fine." Jim bit his tongue. He couldn’t believe he’d almost said "dying."

A million questions ran through Joey’s mind. All she remembered was being asleep. And being at peace.  There, she wasn’t aware of her body. Everything was quiet, and all around her was a feeling of warmth. Now, everything was cold, and too loud. And she hurt. Even though she had her brother beside her, she felt so alone.
"The doctors said I’m hurt bad, Jim."
Jim closed his eyes and nodded.
"You are. But you’ll get better."
"Any word from the Admiral?"
"No, he’s on his way. Captain Bridger and Ford are here."
Joey closed her eyes. Leave it to her. Her first long flight since Jasper had gone down, and she almost joins him.
"Well, my career’s over." She said, sadly. Jim gripped her hand.
"Hey, don’t say that. I told you, you’re going to be fine, alright?"
Joey smiled, weakly.
"Yeah, sure, Jim." Then she shut her eyes. She was so tired, and her eyelids felt heavy. Jim watched her breathing grow even as she fell asleep. He smiled and stood up.
"Night, Joey. I’ll see you when you wake up."
In her dreams, Joey said "You better."

Dr. Curtis dropped his glasses on the table and rubbed his eyes.
"I don’t know what you want me to say." He sighed, looking up at Bridger and Ford. Admiral Hastings was on a vid-screen in the corner, participating in the conference from afar. "You want details that I can’t give you. Every patient heals differently."
"Look, Doctor, all we want to know is how long before she can return to work." Hastings demanded.
"And I’m telling you I don’t know!" Curtis retorted. "Four hours ago, I didn’t expect her to live to see tomorrow, and now she’s alive and conscious. That’s all I can guarantee at this point!"
Bridger held up his hand.
"Ok. Why don’t you tell us where we go from here?"
Curtis sighed.
"She’s still going to need at least one more operation to repair the damage internally. Bones heal, her head will heal. But she’s going to need considerable physical therapy and psychological treatment before I would say that she could return to active duty." He looked over at Hastings. "And I think you’d better at least face the probability that she won’t be able to jump back in the cockpit. Not right away, and maybe not ever."
Hastings sighed.
"Perhaps we should just discharge her then."
Ford bit his lip. It wasn’t his place to say anything. Bridger, however, could read his thoughts.
"Now, wait a minute! You don’t throw something away just because it needs a little repair. Lt. Brody has been flying planes for you for years, and now that she has one accident, you’re ready to discharge her completely?"
"Two accidents, Captain. Let’s not forget her accident earlier this year. It took her 6 months to even LOOK at another plane."
"Her fiancée died!" Ford couldn’t hold back any longer. "And just because she might not fly doesn’t mean her UEO career is over."
"Agreed." Bridger said. "Lt. Brody is still a valuable piece of manpower, and last I checked, she was stationed aboard seaQuest, not Miramar. So, the decision is really mine. And I’m turning it over to her. If she wants to stay, then she can have a sabbatical to heal and come back when she’s ready. If she wants to be discharged, then we’ll do it honorably."
Hastings sighed.
"If you want to take responsibility, Captain, it’s all yours. But I’m warning you, I’ve seen this before. Soldiers like that," he shook his head, "they don’t come back. And if they do, they’re no good to anyone."
"We’ll see." Bridger turned off the vid-screen and looked back at Dr. Curtis.
"We’ll worry about everything else as it comes. Just worry about her recovery for now."

Joey could feel a presence in her room, and she forced herself to open her eyes. The brace kept her from turning her head, but she could tell that there was someone standing in her doorway.
"Who’s there?" She called. Footsteps came into the room.
"It’s me." Miguel’s face appeared at her bedside. Joey looked away. Miguel had been in her dreams.
Miguel bit his lip as Joey looked away. He didn’t know how she would react to what he had said earlier. He guessed he had just found out.
"I, uh…how’re you feeling?" He asked. Joey swallowed deep.
"I’m…better." She smiled. "The painkillers are kicking in."
"It’s good to see you back with us." Miguel grinned. Joey rolled her eyes as much as she could manage.
"Don’t lie, I look like hell, and I know it."
Now it was Miguel’s turn to look down.
"No, you don’t. You look beautiful."
"Liar." Joey sighed, grateful that he had at least tried. Too bad her dreams hadn’t been real. Miguel grinned.
"Ok, you’ve looked better. But you’re going to heal."
"That’s what everyone keeps telling me."
"And you don’t believe them?"
"I don’t know what I believe. I’m not even sure that this is real. I keep hoping I’ll wake up in my bunk on seaQuest and this will all have been a dream."
"I wish it was." Miguel sighed. Joey bit her lip.
"Miguel…" She started, and then thought better of it. "Never mind."
"No, what?" Miguel’s brow furled.
"How long…I mean, how long have you been here?"
"I came with Jim and the captain as soon as we found out."
"Oh."
"Why?"

Joey sighed. She was wondering if what she had heard was real, or just the process of her sub-conscious mind trying to drag her back into this world.
"Did you…I mean, did you come in here at all?"
"Yes…" Miguel thought he knew where this was going.
"Because I…I had this dream and…and you were in it…" She smiled, embarrassed. "I guess that sounds pretty stupid to you."
"No, it doesn’t. Go on, I want to hear."
"In my dream…you said that I wasn’t alone…that you were here for me…" She smiled. "I don’t know, maybe it was my subconscious making up stories again. I’m sorry."
"Joey, that wasn’t a dream."
"What?"
Miguel reached over and took her hand.
"That wasn’t a dream." He said softly. "That was really me. And I meant every word."
"What…but how…wh…" Joey’s eyes searched Miguel’s face looking for answers to questions she couldn’t even comprehend, let alone articulate.

"Well, well, well." Bridger’s voice came from the doorway. "Look who’s back." In an instant, Bridger’s smiling face appeared over the bed. "Welcome back soldier."
Joey tried to smile.
"I’m not much of a soldier anymore, am I?"
Bridger smiled.
"Well, maybe not right now. But you’re going to heal and then we’ll see what happens, shall we? Ortiz, could you excuse us, please?"
Miguel looked at the captain and then at Joey. He didn’t want to let go of her hand, not until he knew what she had been trying to say. But then he realized that he didn’t have a choice.
"Aye, sir." He looked at Joey. "We’ll talk later, ok?"
Her eyes watched him leave.
"Yes, we will, Miguel."
When he was gone, Bridger sighed and pulled up a chair.
"Well, young lady, some mess we’re in, wouldn’t you say?"
"With all due respect sir, it’s not really a "we"."
"Oh I understand. But, as your captain, we’re both in this."
"Yes, sir." Joey sighed. "Are you here to discharge me?"
"Is that what you want?"
"I…I don’t know what I want."
Bridger placed a hand on hers.
"Look, kiddo. You have a couple of options, and I’m not going to pressure you into making a decision right here, right now.  If you want to leave, then you are eligible for honorable discharge. If you want to stay, then there is always a place for you on seaQuest."
"But not at Miramar?"
Bridger raised his eyebrow.
"You want to fly?"
"Not really, I just want to know all of my options."
"Joey, it’s not official yet, but Admiral Hastings has relinquished responsibility for you. You are a member of seaQuest, and of my crew."
Joey closed her eyes. She knew it. The admiral was known for having very little patience with his personnel. Generally, one accident was all it took. She had been involved in two.
"Captain?" she asked. "What would you do?"
Bridger shook his head.
"I’m not in your position, and I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to do if I was. You  have a long time to make your decision."
"How long?"
"As long as you need. You’re going to be under this hospital’s care until they deem you ready to be transferred out. Where you go is your choice."
Bridger stood up.
"I’m going to go, and let some of the other people in here who are aching to see you. But, Lt. Brody, you are a member of my crew until you hand in your resignation, understand?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you."
Joey sighed.
"Jo?" Alex rushed into the room. Joey couldn’t help but smile.
"Alex! Hey."
"How are you?"
She raised an eyebrow.
"I’m broken."
"I can see that." He smiled, sadly. "I guess we just weren’t meant to fly together, huh?"
"I guess not."
"Are you ok? Can I get you anything?"
"No, I’m fine. I think." Joey sighed.

Alex nodded, knowing what was going through her mind.
"What did the Admiral say?"
"What he should have said 9 months ago. That I’m no longer his pilot. Which, I guess, is the only thing he could say at this point. It’s either seaQuest, or get discharged."
"Wow." Alex sat down in the chair.
"Yeah. I guess, in a way, I know what I’m going to do. I’m staying with seaQuest. But so much of my life was as a pilot. Even if I wasn’t serving at Miramar, I always had the option of going back, you know?"
"You liked the open-door policy."
"Except now it’s been slammed in my face."

Jim looked at Miguel in the waiting room.
"You told her, didn’t you?" He asked accusingly.
"Told her what, Jim?" Miguel knew very well what Jim meant, but he didn’t want to talk about it.
"What you said earlier."
"No. I didn’t have to. She heard."
"And she said…?"
"Nothing. She said nothing, Jim."
Jim set his jaw. He didn’t know how to respond, so he stood up.
"I’m going to go and see her."
Miguel stood up.
"Jim, don’t say anything to her, ok? I mean, about me, or what I said or anything."
"Like you said, Miguel, I won’t have to. She heard."

Jim walked into the room and saw Alex leaning over Joey’s bedside. He looked up at Jim.
"Hey, sir."
"You don’t have to call me sir, Alex."
"Sorry, reflex."
Joey smiled. "Hi, Jim."
"Hey, junior. How you feeling?"
"Better than I look." She sighed. "We’re trying to decide the rest of my life. Want to put in your two cents?"
Jim looked surprised.
"The rest of your life? Wow, big conversation for someone who’s on painkillers."
"Precisely why we’re having it." Joey said.
Jim leaned on the other edge of the bed.
"Sure, ok. So what are we deciding?"
Alex grinned.
"To be a sailor, or not to be a sailor."
"Easy. Be a sailor." Jim smiled. "But then, look who you’re asking."
"What he means is, to be a sailor, or to be a civilian. The Admiral made it clear that "to be a pilot" is no longer an option."
"Ouch, Jo, I’m sorry." Jim said. He had heard from the captain about Hasting’s decision. "What are you thinking?"
"We’re weighing pros and cons." Alex said.
"Oh yeah? Who’s winning?"
"To be a sailor." Alex smiled.
"I could stay here," Joey explained. "Captain Bridger said I can have as much time as I need. But I’ve already spoken to Dr. Smith, and once the hospital releases me, I can transfer to seaQuest. I wouldn’t be active duty for awhile, but I could stay on board until I’m ready to return to work." She groaned, remembering. "Ugh, right after I pass my competency tests, too."
"Hey, those will be easy to get back." Jim offered. "Security will be the only tough one, but your bridge competency is not going to be a problem." He smiled, and decided to test the waters. "Especially since you have an eager tutor at sensors and navigation."
Joey sighed. Alex looked between the two of them, a look of confusion on his face.
"Did I miss something?" He asked. Joey bit her lip. Alex and Jasper had been best friends. She wasn’t sure how he would feel about the prospect of her getting back into dating again. Hell, she wasn’t sure how SHE felt about it.
"Um…I haven’t…I mean, there’s a guy…"
"Miguel?" Alex asked. Joey raised her eyebrow as best she could.
"And you knew about that how?" She looked at Jim, who raised his hands in defense.
"Hey, I said nothing."
"He didn’t have to." Alex started. "It’s been written all over Miguel’s face since…months ago, I guess."
"Wait, since when do you talk to Miguel?" Joey asked. Jim looked away in shame.
"Since Alex, Tim, Miguel and I have been hanging out on shore leave."
"Wait, so your boy’s nights have included an extra boy?"
"Only when I could get time off." Alex defended Jim.
"And why did no one tell me this?"
"It didn’t seem like a big deal." Alex shrugged. "Anyway," he grinned, rapidly switching the subject, "I think we’re moving off the topic, which is, how do you feel about Miguel?"
Joey closed her eyes.
"I…I don’t know." A sense of guilt over came her. How could she ever think about dating another man? Alex saw her expression change.
"Jo," he said, softly. "It’s not betraying Jasper to start to live again."
Joey opened her eyes.
"Then why do I feel so guilty?"
Alex sighed, and fidgeted with his fingers as he spoke. "Probably the same reason I didn’t tell you about going out on leave with your brother and friends. Because it means that Jasper won’t be there, and that part of me is accepting that. And letting someone else…not really take his place…but letting someone else in…that’s a big step." He looked down. "You know how close Jas and I were, Jo. He was like my brother. A year ago, I didn’t make a move without him, he was my boy. He was there. And then he wasn’t. But I can’t go on feeling empty anymore. I can’t go on hurting every morning when I wake up. Jas wouldn’t want me to, and he wouldn’t want you to, either."
Jim just stared at Alex. He hadn’t realized the boy had felt this way. He had sensed hesitation when Jim first called to ask if Alex wanted to go grab a drink at the bar, but hadn’t understood the source. Jim looked down at Joey, who had a far-off look in her eyes. He wasn’t sure if it was from the drugs, or from what Jasper had said. He cleared his throat.
"Joey?"
"I just…I just want to be alone, ok?" She closed her eyes.
Alex bit his lip and nodded. Jim stood up, and together the two of them left the room, leaving Joey to her thoughts.

TO CHAPTER 4