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seaQuest: The Dawning
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    Tony glanced down at the address written on a tiny scrap of paper in his hand. He sighed, and turned his rental car onto a narrow gravel road. Heíd never been back in this area before. Heíd driven about an hour outside of the city into the middle of nowhere, and then towards the shore again. He had approximately 5 hours of shore leave today, and he had hoped to visit Nathania. He hadnít counted on her living so far out of the way, and he worried that once he got there, he was going to have to turn back around. Too bad Nathan still didnít approve of their relationship. Maybe he could have wrangled an overnight pass, he though to himself.
    Tony pulled up in front of a tall, white house, Victorian style, complete with a tower room on the west side.  There was a wrap-around porch that extended from the front door around the back of the house.
"Whoa." he gasped. He had known that Anya had money. Obviously, she toured internationally to perform concerts, but he hadnít expected a house like this. It wasnít vary large. He guessed that there were only 4 bedrooms, but the house itself was beautiful. Classic.
    He got out of his car and jogged the small distance up to the front door. He pounded on the door.
"Natty?" He called. There was no answer. On a hunch, he followed the porch around to the back side of the house, overlooking the ocean.
"Nathania?"
    Tony watched as Nathania leaned against the railing. Her eyes were lost on the horizon watching the distant waves make their way inland until they crashed upon the shore. Her mind was wandering and she didnít notice Tony approach until she heard his footsteps on the porch.
"Hey!" She cried, turning around to face him. Tony smiled and wrapped his arms around her and drew her close. He placed a long kiss on her lips and she brought her hand up to touch his face.
"I missed you." she said, softly.
"I missed you, too." he breathed. She kissed his cheek.
"How long can you stay?"
Tony shook his head.
"I canít."
"What?" Anya was disappointed. Tony smiled weakly.
"Iím not even supposed to be here right now. The commander thinks Iím meeting with my parole officer. And I am. Just later today."
Anya sighed.
"This is so frustrating. I want to see you, spend time with you. Iím tired of sneaking around."
Tony brushed her hair out of her eyes with his fingers.
"I know, Natty. And we will. Itís just, we have to give it some time, thatís all."
"Itís not fair. Weíre both adults, and this is our decision. No one elseís."
"I know. But, at least for the time being, I am a sailor. And your uncle is my captain. If he doesnít think we should be together, regardless if heís wrong, it doesnít matter. We have to look like weíre not together." As a tear fell, Tony touched her cheek.
"Hey," he said. "Weíll get through this."
Nat tried to smile.
"I know we will. I just wish that it were sooner, rather than later. And I wish that Nathan would understand..."
"He wonít, because he cares about you."
Tony leaned back against the railing and looked self-consciously at his hand.
"I mean, when it comes to being the ideal guy for his niece, Iím far from the best choice. Iíve been in jail..."
"You were put in prison for striking a senior officer."
Tony shook his head and continued.
"Iím a screw-up Nat. I mean, Iím only a sailor, because I canít do anything else. Iím not smart like Lucas is, I can barely balance my own checkbook."
"Tony, no one is smart like Lucas. Well...ok, except maybe Natalie."
"Iím not talented like you. Iím not even that good of a sailor, Natty. And Iím no good for you. Nathan knows it, the commander knows it. Even Miguel and Lucas know it, though theyíre at least nice enough not to say it to my face."
"Tony, stop it." Anya gripped his face with her hands, pleading with him.
"I donít care about that, none of that. All I care about is you. I want you, Tony. Not a brain like Lucas, not the best artist or the best sailor. You. Anthony Piccolo."
Tony shook his head.
"You say that now, because Iím the bad guy, the forbidden love. But as soon as you get tired of me, suddenly youíll see who I really am."
Anya stopped, and took a step backwards, willing herself not to slap him as hard as she could. Instead, she let her arms slide off of his face and fall to her sides.
"Is that all you think of me?" She asked through gritted teeth. "You think I want to be with you to satisfy some post adolescent need to rebel? That hurts, Tony."
Tony stood up.
"No, no, thatís not what I meant." he said. "See, I canít even talk to you without screwing it up."
"Then what exactly did you mean?" she demanded.
"I mean...I mean that I think Iím falling in love with you, Nathania. And Iíve never felt like that before. Iíve never had one person that I canít keep my mind off of. Iíve never counted the days until I get to see someone before. I donít...I keep thinking that Iím going to open my eyes, and itíll be gone. I donít want to lose you."
Anya was speechless.
"Tony, youíre not going to lose me." She whispered, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder. He sighed and kissed the top of her head.
"I want to be good for you, Nat."
"Tony, you already are." She looked up and kissed him quickly. "When do you have to meet with your parole officer?""
Tony glanced at his watch.
"I have to leave in an hour. But I could always re-schedule."
"But then he would call Nathan, and Nathan would know exactly where you were."
"I thought you were tired of hiding."
"I am, Tony." She sighed. "But your right. Nathan is your captain."
Tony bit his lip.
"Weíve got to do something about him, Nat."
"Agreed." she smiled. "But we donít have to do it right now. We have an hour together. Iíd rather make the most of it."
Tony grinned.
"And what exactly did you have in mind?"
She snuggled closer.
"Oh, nothing." She grinned, throwing his own words from the cabin back at him She looked up and kissed his lips. He wrapped his arms around her and pushed her backwards towards to door and twisted the knob letting them slip inside. She pushed the door shut behind them and smiled. He looked around him. They were standing inside the sunlight dining room. To their right was a large kitchen with oak cabinets and ivory tile countertops. A smell of vanilla and spices hung in the air.
"I like your house." he said. Anya blushed.
"Thanks. Honestly, itís a bit much for me, but I couldnít help it. I have a thing for old houses. Thereís so much character when a house is a little quirky. I saw it and fell in love. Too bad Iím never here."
"Itís nice, I like it. Especially the kitchen."
"Yeah, me too. But do you want to see my favorite room?"
"Sure."
    She led them through a corridor and opened a large wooden door. She turned on a light and led them downstairs into the basement. On wall was lined with window, and for the first time Tony realized that the house was built into a hillside and that there was an extra floor you couldnít see from the front of the house. You actually entered on the second story. Sunlight flooded the room, glinting off of a large glass  cube in the center. Inside the cube stood a black, baby grand piano, a microphone and some audio equipment that Tony couldnít identify. He grinned.
"Now I see why this is your favorite room."
He walked over and slid open the panel that served as a door. Anya stepped in behind him. There was a small booth attached to the cube and it was filled with audio equipment. Inside the cube, there were several black metal pillar candleholders with tall white candles on them.
"Welcome to my second home." Anya smiled, lighting the candles on one pillar.
"Nice. Is this where you record your albums?"
"No, not really. This is where I practice, and write and record my own music. Most of the album was actually recorded in a cathedral near Orlando." She put down the lighter and sat down on a stool.
Tony sat down at the piano. Anya got up and sat down beside him. Tony lightly brushed the tops of the ivory keys with his fingertips. It had been a long time since he sat down at a piano this nice.
"Will you play me something?" he asked. Anya blushed.
"Um, sure. If you want me to."
Tony grinned.
"Yes."
Anya lightly brushed her hands on the keys, and bit her lip, deciding what to play.
"Ok. But this isnít finished yet. Itís a song I started about 5 years ago. Somehow, I just canít seem to finish it."
Tony mentally did the math. 5 years ago Bobby Bridger was lost at sea. Anya closed her eyes and began to sing.
"Solace kissed your face, your tears in my hair.
You say itís time to go, my friend, I can feel it in the air.
And like the moon upon the water gives diamonds to the sea,
I pray that when the storm is gone, youíll return to me.
Through this bitter, bitter cold,
I always thought that Iíd have you to hold me.
Hold me through the storm, and keep me warm,
Through this bitter, bitter coldÖ"
Anya let the notes trail off and smiled weakly.
"Thatís all there is right now. I have the melody and accompaniment, but the words just wonít come."
Tony touched her arm.
"That was beautiful."
She smiled.
"Thank you."
They kissed, and as their eyes closed, a tiny sparkle flickered into the room, igniting the remaining 7 pillar candles. Tony opened his eyes and gasped.
"WhoaÖAnya?"
Anya looked.
"TonyÖI, I didnít light those."
"They didnít just light on their own!" he stood up, looking around them. "Whoís here?" He demanded of the empty air. Anya shook her head.
"Tony, itís just us, thereís no one else. The alarm would have gone off."
"Then how the hell did those candles start burning?" he looked at her, a mixture of anger and fear on his face.
"I donít know. Sometimes things just, happenÖaround here. Weird things." Anya walked over and touched his arm.
"What, you mean like a ghost or something? You have a ghost? Thatís ridiculous."
The lid on the piano slammed shut, and Anya jumped. Tonyís jaw dropped.
"Tony!" she shushed him with her hand. "Donít say that."
Without a word, he raised his hand and pointed to the piano.
"How did that just happen?"
Anya shook her head. Tony couldnít breathe. His hands flew to his head and gripped what little hair was there.
"Aw, Christ." His heart started beating in his ears and his knees felt weak. He had to get out of there. He gripped Anyaís hand and pulled them towards the stairs. The instant his foot his the first step,  a rush of cold air filled the room, extinguishing all of the candles, Without another pause, the two pounded up the stairs and slammed the door shut behind them. When they reached the landing, Tony collapsed into a chair.
"What the hell was that???" he said. Anya sighed and shook her head, sitting on the floor in front of him.
"Tony," she began slowly, "remember when I said that I loved the character of old houses? Well, this house has a personality of its own. I canít explain it. Ever since I moved here, even on the very first night, Iíve known that there was someone or something in this house. You could feel it. Like I can feel it now."
"Like a ghost?"
"A presence. Something I canít explain. At first it was just a feeling, but then things started happening."
"Things? What kinds of things?"
"Nothing bad. Lights coming on in the darkness when I swear Iíd left them off. If I put my keys down anywhere in the house, they wind up on the hook in the hallway anyway. Doors to the outside locking when I thought Iíd left them unlocked. Little things like that. You saw with the candles. Thereís something going on, and I canít explain it, but it doesnít seem evil to me."
"You mean like a guardian angel. He locks your doors, and finds your keys, and creates mood lighting?" Tony asked incredulously. He wasnít sure he believed all of this, but how could he deny what he had seen with his own eyes?
"Sort of. I donít know." She reached up and touched his knee. "Iím sorry, I should have warned you."
Tony sighed and grabbed her hand and pulled her up into his lap, where he wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Yeah, that would have been nice, Anya. Let me know that your place is haunted next time, ok?" he groaned and looked at his wrist. "Shit, Iím late."
"What?" Anya jumped, looking at her watch. "Oh, man, you are. Tony, Iím so sorry." She jumped up.
"Itís ok." he assured her.
"No, no itís not. Now youíre going to get into trouble with your parole officer and Nathan, and itís all my fault. Iím so sorry."
He stood up.
"Natty, itís ok. Donít worry about it. Iíll make something up. Iíll sayÖthe car died or something. I donít know. Iíll take care of it though, ok?"
Anya sighed.
"Iím still sorry, Tony."
"Donít be. Iím not."


    Bridger was in the wardroom when the call came in.
"Sir?" Tim OíNeillís voice rang out. "There is a Sergeant Page  on the vid link for you. He says that it is urgent."
"Put him through." he tapped a button on the table, and a middle-aged manís face appeared on screen.
"Captain Bridger. Anthony Piccolo has missed his parole meeting. Is he still aboard the seaQuest?"
Bridgerís jaw dropped.
"He left hours ago." He clicked another button. "OíNeill, any word from Piccolo?"
"No, sir. He checked from the rental car agency and that was the last I heard."
Bridger nodded.
"Thank you." He turned back to Page. "I will check into this immediately, thank you."
Page raised one eyebrow and turned off the communication. Bridger sat for a moment, contemplating. He knew that Nathania had a week off before she her next performance. And he knew that her house was within driving  distance of the dock. There was  no doubt in his mind where Tony was.

    Lucas leaned back on his bed and rested his head on the pillow. With Tony gone, he had the whole place to himself. It was kind of nice. He missed having his own place where he could do what he wanted without being watched constantly. And he didnít have to put up with a pigpen. For now the quarters were clean, but the instant Tony came back, the place would be a disaster again.
    An alarm on his computer beeped, signaling an incoming text message. Smiling, he rolled off his bed and flipped open the console.
Enchantress- Lucas?

    He typed a message in return.
Frankenstein: Hey, Nat!
Enchantress: Hey. What are you up to?
Frankenstein: Not much, waiting for my shift. Missing you.
Enchantress: ::blush:: Youíre too sweet. I miss you, too.
Frankenstein: When do you think youíll be able to come and visit?
Enchantress: Well, actually, Iím already there. Sort of. Iím staying at my uncleís house this week in New             Cape Quest.
Frankenstein: Arenít you teaching?
Enchantress:   My classes are doing their own experiments this week, so I have some time off.
Frankenstein:  Maybe Iíll have to come and visit you.
Enchantress:  Good Luck. Nathan wouldnít be too upset.
Frankenstein: I thought he didnít mind us together. I havenít heard him say anything. He never gave us that lecture he promised us at the hospital.
Enchantress: Do you have time off?
Frankenstein: No, Iíd be going AWOL. Though, technically, Iím a civilian. I could come up there and we could go back to the shed and pick up where we left off?
Enchantress: ::laughing:: How about we stay indoors where itís warm. Besides, there are beds in here.

Lucas blushed bright pink.

Frankenstein: Oh really? And what sort of  activities did you have planned?
Enchantress: Jumping! What did you think I meant?
Frankenstein: Something else entirely.
Enchantress: Yeah, Iíll bet. Youíre a guy, right? Every six secondsÖ
Frankenstein: Whatís that?
Enchantress: Guys think about sex every six seconds, on average.
Frankenstein: Well, Iím not average.
Enchantress: Oh, so you think about it more often? Wow.

There was a knock at Lucasí door.
"Iím not home!" he called, anxious to  continue his conversation with Natalie.
"Lucas, open this door." Bridger demanded in a no-nonsense tone that made Lucas jump.
"Ok, ok." He rolled his eyes. "Iím coming."
Bridger rushed through the door before Lucas could even open it.
"Lucas, what is the meaning of this?" he demanded.
Lucas blushed and looked at the computer. How could the captain know?
"I, uh. We were, uhÖ"
Bridger looked at the computer screen and recognized the screen name. Worse yet, he saw the last few lines of conversation. His jaw dropped and he felt his anger surge within him. He slapped the console, turning off of the computer.
"Youíre talking about sex? With my niece?"
"Well, in all fairness, no we werenít. It just, sort of, came up?" Lucas struggled for words. He was in deep water and he knew it. Bridger shook his head.
"Like hell." He pointed a finger at Lucas. "You leave her alone, do you hear me?"
"But, sir, IÖ"
"No buts." He sighed and shook his head, obviously disappointed. "I honestly thought you would be good for each other."
"Captain, we are. I mean, we might be. I donít know. But I think you have the wrong idea, we werenít doing anything wrong.  She was just making a joke."
"Sex is a joke between you two? Nice work, Lucas."
Lucas shook his head.
"No, thatís not what I meant."
"Lucas, I was 18 once too, remember? Now, Natalie is smart, beautiful. Sheís got a good head on her shoulders and a promising career. Donít interfere with that."
Lucas felt his pulse quicken as the anger boiled inside him.
"Iím not! Would you just listen to me?! Nothing is happening that you should be concerned about! I know Natís smart, Captain. She matched my average at Stanford, remember? Sheís been like my sister for the longest time because sheís just like me! All day long, IĎm surrounded by adults who spend their time talking down to me because IĎm young, but then they turn around and expect me to interpret something they donĎt understand." Lucas bit his lip and forced himself to calm down. "I donít know, I thought youíd be happy that we started datingÖ"
"Yes, I was. But now I think youíre taking each other too seriously."
"Well, Iíll take that under advisement, CAPTAIN." Lucas said through gritted teeth.
"Lucas! Donít you DARE talk to me like that." Bridger shot back. Then he raised his hand. "Look, Iím going to make this simple. Leave Natalie alone. I want as much distance as possible between you two, for now. Maybe, once youíve gotten some perspective, youíll realize thatÖ"
"Realize what?" Lucas snapped. He couldnít believe that the captain was treating him like this. He wasnít his father. Nathanís blood boiled.
"Youíll realize that your future aboard seaQuest should be a greater priority than your hormones." he fired back. Lucas stopped. Was the captain actually threatening to kick him off of seaQuest if he and Natalie continued dating. Nathan saw the question in his eyes.
"No, Iím not threatening to kick you off. In fact, Iíll see that transferring you is impossible. And then Iíll turn your world upside down. You have too many privileges on board this boat, Lucas. But sleeping with the captainís niece is where I draw the line. And I will see that all other privileges are revoked as well."
Lucas bit his lip, knowing better than to speak. Bridger sighed and continued.
"Now, what I actually came to see you about was Tony. It seems that he has gone AWOL, no doubt to go after my OTHER niece." he shook his head. "It makes me wonder if I should have even invited them to Thanksgiving. And now Christmas is comingÖYou are going with Lt. Brody and Chief Ortiz to find Tony and bring him back. Iím assuming you would know his plans."
Lucas held his tongue.
"Yes, sir." he managed, civilly.
Bridger stood up and faced Lucas.
"Lucas, Iím not doing this to be cruel."
"Then why does it feel like you are?" Lucas walked over to his closet and grabbed his jacket. "Now, if youíll excuse me, Iíll go and find Lieutenant Brody."
Bridger watched as Lucas left his own quarters, slamming the door behind him.

TO CHAPTER 2