Authors note: The gauntlet was thrown... I was double dog dared to post this story even though I had not finished it and was going against my own rule about not posting fics until they are finished. However sometimes rules need to get bent. It had been a very long time since my musae---aka The Wenches--- have latched on long enough to a story to see it through to its end and it they headed full bore to finishing this one, so I took a chance and posted it! Besides, that fiendishthingy I call a friend double dog dared me to do it... So here goes nothing. ;)
Why my wenches latched on to David Caruso is beyond me, but when they did I decided to give the guy a fair break and I started watching CSI: Miami even after giving up on it in the first season. My, oh my, have I been pleasantly surprised. Anyway, here you go...
Also, any spelling errors, etc are mine, this entire story has been triple beta'd already!
For you Chris Snyder, just because!
One of the strangest facts a person can learn about the city of Seattle concerns its ferry fleet. None of the country knows it, indeed most of the city of Seattle doesn't even realize it. Yet the fact remains that Seattle ferries can be chartered for private functions. The big super ferries can be taken out of the normal rotation of service and used to cruise around Puget Sound for anyone willing to pay the cost of the expenditure.
The Klickitat was the ferry of choice, and it was cruising between Bremerton and Seattle, chugging slowly (per regulation due to beach front homeowners) along Rich Passage. She was heading back to the main terminal in Seattle carrying a large contingent of law enforcement personnel, specifically crime scene technicians and investigators from all over the country, who had converged on the city for a special convention. This happened to be one of the perks the host city had to offer to all its visitors.
Most were mingling on the upper levels, either on one of the four observation decks or inside the hugely spacious ship. A few wandered the nearly empty car deck. On the port side, at the very front stood one man, apparently lost deep in thought.
The breeze ruffled his short hair --perhaps his most distinguishing feature-- a rich red-gold that the sun highlighted to bright perfection. He hid his blue eyes behind a pair of very dark sunglasses, making him inscrutable to just about everyone, particularly strangers. He was dressed impeccably in a dark grey suit, minus the tie, and royal blue shirt that perfectly matched the colour of his eyes.
He stood with his hands on his hips, strangely aware of the fact that his gun and badge weren't in their normal places. With him being on 'vacation', they had been left in Miami. He stood listening to the powerful thrum of the ship's engines, and the water swishing rapidly down the side of the ship, throwing out the occasional spray as it cut through the water. People on the upper deck behind him were amusing the constant flock of seagulls with various snacks, which added to the cacophony of noise.
The day, surprisingly warm for early spring in the Pacific Northwest, still carried a bite of chill from the breeze the ferry's forward movement created. Yet for someone from the deep south it was a pleasant change. Horatio Caine idly watched the innumerable small tree-covered islands and bays drift past the ferry. The homes, scattered here and there were old and well established, the numerous rhododendrons providing the occasional splash of red, pink, and white. He silently marveled at how deeply green the area was. It was strikingly beautiful and very different for one accustomed to the semi-tropical south.
One thing not so different, he idly noted, was the boats. On any good day in Miami, Seattle or any other city known for boating, the pleasure crafts would be out, whether motor boats or sail boats. It was no different here. Neither were the general rules of maritime law, meaning that the larger ships had to give way to the smaller crafts, especially the sailboats. As the Klickitat made its way through the channel markers, still going slow because of the beach erosion rules, Horatio's attention was caught by a single boat further out into the Sound which was not under sail and appeared to be drifting into the channel occupied by the ferry. At first he saw no one on board, but his ears caught the sound of people on the deck above him making comments about the boat and that it appeared to be into the ferry's route.
The Klickitat's skipper let out the necessary blast of the air horn, trying to warn the boat's occupant's that they were in the channel. The volume of laughter turned up several notches, including a few surprised shrieks from women startled by the abrupt and very close blast of the horn. More people were beginning to notice the boat.
Horatio frowned, glancing back over his shoulder up towards the navigation station, knowing that if the sailboat didn't respond to the warning blast that the captain would have to perform evasive action, the sailboat having right of way. But here? In a channel clearly marked by buoys? A grounding of the ship would be the inevitable conclusion and they were loosing minutes fast.
He quickly looked back at the now rapidly approaching boat, that odd intuition of imminent disaster gripping his gut. Where was the sailboat's pilot? Had it been abandoned and allowed to simply drift? It wasn't unfeasible, people were knocked off their crafts all the time, he was idly thinking, when he caught sight of movement inside the cabin. Abruptly, a woman shot out onto the deck, stumbling as she tripped, trying to run to the wheel at the stern of the boat. Immediately the thrum of power from the engines cut in half as the Captain reduced speed. Two things registered in Horatio's brain as the ferry let out a very long, loud, warning blast from the air horn. There was a look of horror on her face followed by the total shock of seeing the ferry bearing down on her.
Like a deer caught in headlights, the woman on the boat abruptly stopped her running and froze. That the ferry would at least clip the boat in a broadside was now inevitable.
Moving rapidly, Horatio deserted the port side of the car deck and rushed towards the very front of the loading dock. "Hey!" his voice roared, cutting through the catcalls and jovialities from the onlookers on the upper decks. "Hey! Get off the boat!"
He barely caught the sound of one of the gentlemen shouting out his name in a question when a third factor registered in his alarmed brain. There was a sudden flash of white inside the cabin, and his instincts abruptly took over any other thoughts. He spun away and hit the deck flat as the boat abruptly exploded.
In that odd sequence of events when seconds suddenly slow down to a crawl, Horatio was vaguely aware of debris showering down around him and striking the ferry. The people above him were suddenly galvanized and shouting, some from having been hit by debris or horrified that the boat had blown up. As the seconds passed he rolled over, whipping his sunglasses off, looking up to see what was left of the boat, now roaring with flames, debris still raining down in the water around it. Scrambling to his feet he looked at the wreck as the ferry bore down on it, the air horn one continual blast as it began to slew to starboard to avoid hitting the vessel. That was when he saw the woman in the water...
He kicked off his shoes as he scrambled over the chain closing off the loading deck, ignoring several of his colleagues yelling out his name and telling him to stop. His jacket hit the deck and he was over the side in an instant in a long dive calculated to get him out past the ferry's deck and well into the water. The shock of the water didn't register until he was back up for air and swimming strongly toward the girl, who was still moving to his sense of odd relief. It was as he reached her that he became aware that the water was damn cold.
"Hang on!" he called out as the girl abruptly came up for air. She had been trying not to go under again. He came up behind her, neatly rolling her onto her back, as he slipped an arm around her to prevent her from grabbing onto him for dear life. She was gagging, coughing and gasping for air all at the same time. "I've got ya." He reassured as her arm flailed in an effort to stay afloat. "I've got ya, just let me do the work here..." he said firmly, treading water. "Just relax, I've got ya."
They were both nearly overwhelmed by the rollers from the ferry and when Horatio glanced that way he was startled to see that the huge ferry was a lot farther away then he could wish. People were cramming the back of the ferry all reacting to the situation, but far enough away that he couldn't hear them. The chill of the near freezing water brought him back to reality as he felt the girl grab his arm, still gasping for air. Her head lolled back against his shoulder and he could see that her eyes were squeezed shut in pain and blood was trailing out of both nostrils.
"Can you hear me?" he asked, aware that their clothes where dragging them down and that his feet, despite strong kicking were feeling a little numb. Where the hell was rescue anyway? There were hundreds of witnesses on the ferry, and nearly all had to have cell phones...
He felt her nod her head. "Good, good," he said. "We'll be out of here before you know it, all right?" he asked. Again a nod, he heard her moan a little. "Stay with me now..." he urged, clenching his teeth to prevent them from chattering. "Can you tell me your name?"
As he tread water for them both, he realized that he was tiring far more rapidly then he expected. He glanced towards the now stopped ferry, so very far away, as the girl tried to answer his question.
"Schell..." she managed to chatter out as the icy temperatures hit her far more quickly than it did him.
"Michelle?" he asked, looking around for any other signs of rescue. "Or Shelly?"
"Just Schell..." She managed to say past chattering teeth as they were dunked yet again. She was coughing and spluttering for air as they resurfaced, her grip on his arm tightening
"All right, Shell, listen to me carefully," he urged. "Are you listening?"
Horatio barely smiled, reaching up and tipping her head back against his shoulder, his free hand under her chin. "I need you to let go of my arm." He said carefully. Her reaction was to hang on even harder. "Help is on the way, Shell. And I need you to help me out here, all right? I need you to put your arms out and help me tread water. Okay? Can you do that? I'll make sure you stay afloat. I won't leave you here."
Since reaching her, he could see her struggling to open her eyes, half frozen, stunned from the blast and scared out of her wits...
"Shell, I won't leave you, you have my word, do you understand? Help me tread water..." he urged, pitching his voice low, into her ear. He forced calm into his own words as he scanned about for any sign of someone coming after them. Schell made several attempts to let go of his arm, but fear was still overshadowing her.
"That's it, just do a back float for me. Someone's coming to get us, just stay with me all right? Are you hurt anywhere?" he asked.
Through chattering teeth, as she tried to maintain a back float with him still keeping her head out of the water, she managed to stammer that she didn't know. "That's okay," he murmured. "We'll straighten things out later. Come on, keep swimming for me..."
"D-don't let g-g-go!" She stammered, and he could feel an unnatural shaking gripping her small body. "P-please, d-don't let go!"
"I won't do that... Shell. You have my word on it. I won't let go of you. Stay with me now!" he ordered.
"C-cold..." she managed to stammer again. Then she didn't speak any more...Horatio looked towards the distant ferry again, then back at Schell. She was limp, and he was literally holding her up by her neck. "Shell?" he asked, "Shell?" his voice grew more insistent as he felt the chill sinking deeper into his own bones. "You just stay with me, Shell! We're going to get out of this together, do you understand? Just stay with me!" He looked around again, alarm in his eyes.
Where the hell was rescue?
Summary: An open challenge because its not your typical fanfic, don't knock the story' til you read it... Summery: Trouble has a way of following Horatio around, even when he's attending a convention in Seattle...