That's my Q #20, 21 - Backpost to Shoreleave - "Race to the end?"

(This is a backpost, yes, probably a couple of weeks before current time.)


A few days had passed and the vacation had gone a bit better than it started. Kitty showed Ronald all her favorite places in town, a quiet area with a lot of family-owned specialty shops. The big race was over and won, but that was no reason to avoid the open sea... on this morning, she'd signed them up for a smaller race on the sound. Kitty was all excited at the prospect as they made the little sunfish ready to sail. It was a warm day for mid-autumn, almost warm enough for shorts instead of pants... almost. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt as she apparently often did around home, and she'd taken off her light jacket by the time they were ready to set sail, tying it around her slender waist.

Evans wasn't so sure of their abilities, yet. He wasn't taking chances, and had put on his wetsuit again... As a result, he actually *was* the odd one out... Some of those wiseguys had placed some remarks like "Planning on swimming?" or "By the way, you're supposed to stay *in* the boat." Evans just resisted the urge to flip them the bird, and ignored the remarks as well as he could...

There were several entries, just like any race... Some boats were manned by singles, some boats were crewed by two... There was even a touristic entry, carrying a crew of three... A father and his two young kids... <Well, I guess we won't finish last..> Evans thought, smiling to the kids of the overcrewed sunfish...

It was a lovely morning, misty but warm, and there were a few spectators to the race as well as some boats just out for a ride. One larger vessel came sailing serenely past, crewed by about four or five people. One of them, an obviously experienced sailor, was trying to direct the others, who all looked as if they belonged in an office with proper business attire and various PADDs and stylus in various pockets. They all looked enthusiastic, and the one able seaman already seemed quite harried. One of them waved to Kitty, which alerted the others, and they all waved cheerily to the Black sunfish. Kitty chuckled and waved back, apparently recognizing them.

Evans just put up some sort of a smile, and waved too. "You know them?" he asked Kitty. He was feeling a bit out of place, though...

"An old tradition," Kitty said, bringing the sail around to catch the breeze and help turn them towards the starting line. "That's the 'Pfizer Regretta'."

"It looks old." Evans said. "Not worn, but it looks like an ancient design... Heavy... Fat..."

Kitty giggled. "Well, the Black sunfish has been around for a very long time too, you know. You ready for this race? Ready to win?" She was on an 'excitement high' again, bright, cheerful, dark eyes sparkling.

"Oh, I'm ready!" Evans said to that, picking up a little bit of Kitty's buzz. "...I just don't know if this Black Betty is... I hope it wants to keep us on her. We haven't had that much practice"

"She's the best sunfish here," Kitty said confidently. "And we make a good team. Just watch out for the boom." She looked around at the other boats, then back at Evans. "We'll celebrate no matter where we place. Let's just have fun. 'Kay?" And then she leaned down to where he was sitting to operate the rudder and looked deep into his eyes... and gave him a quick kiss on the lips, blushing charmingly. She straightened back up quickly enough, but now she had an extra small smile that she hadn't had before.

"mpf... Eh... Okay... Yeah, that's incentive enough... Let's smoke these suckers..." Evans said, with an evil grin on his face. "Oooh, yeah..."

"Now you're talking." Kitty chuckled, and then fell silent as the boats finished gathering... the announcer spoke a few words... and the signal was given for them to start! She set the sail immediately, trusting the rudder to him without saying a word, and the sunfish tipped slightly forward as it began to surge ahead, quickly picking up speed and starting to outpace the majority of the crowd. The thing handled like a dream, even better than the holodeck simulation.

Evans intended to treat the rudder as if it were made from glass. He knew that if he didn't, they would be able to see his mother's house from their position in the sky... As he expected, the father with two kids was lagging behind, as were most of the double-crewed vessels. A number of single-crewed vessels were ahead, however, making use of their weight-advantage. The 'crew'of the Pfizer Regatta were cheering them all on, as if they were a bunch of fraternety boys at a wet T-shirt competition...

The race soon resolved into a definite contest between three boats, the Black sunfish and two others. As they took each turn, becoming more daring, working together as if they were one person, the Black sunfish came up close on their competitors... and with a daring curve that came close to a capsize.. but they wouldn't make that mistake again.. they took the lead! Kitty wasn't cheering like the others, though. She'd stopped smiling and was starting to frown as they edged into another straightaway.

As the Black Sunfish was headed on a straight again, they were once again overtaken by one of the lighter single-crewed ships. It was piloted by a young man, who was planning on winning. As he moved past the Black Sunfish, it actually took the wind out of her sails... There was nothing that Kitty and Evans could do about that, and Evans was quite peeved... "Oh nononono... Aw, you got to be kidding me! Come on!" could be heard from his general direction.

"Uh, what?" Kitty blinked.. had her mind been wandering? "Oh, I wouldn't worry about him, let's just make ready for the next corner." But she frowned slightly, looking at the water, then at the sky.

"That guy's fast!" Evans commented to Kitty about the boat that just overtook them. However, the next corner came up, and the young man fumbled... Apparently, handling the sail as well as the rudder, turned out to be a little bit too much of a task for the only-average skilled sailor. He accidentally let a rope slip, causing the sail to suddenly slacken. He grabbed after the rope with both hands, and pulled hard, tightening the sail again. However, by doing so, he had to let go of the rudder, which turned out of his control, causing the ship to suddenly lurch into the wind. The tight sail caught the full force of the wind... There was no doubt about it... The boat listed dangerously, water gushing over the edge. The young captain saw it coming, and decided going down with the ship was something he wasn't ready for yet... The boat capsized, as it's captain bailed.

Evans couldn't help but release a little "Yesss! In your face!" but remembered that he had a job to do too... "Sorry..." he said to Kitty, as he decisively but carefully turned the rudder again...

Kitty chuckled at the sight, seeing what was happening, watching the poor sap powerless to prevent it... remembering when it had happened to them. She waved to him as they sailed past, and concentrated on that next corner. But then she glanced at Evans, looking concerned. "How much do you trust me?" she asked him. Heck of a question, when you're sailing along at top speed.

"Eh..." Evans answered. Then he elaborated: "Well, if all else fails, I'm the one with a wetsuit... Do your thing!"

"Make for the cave," she said, shifting the sail again and pointing out a spot on the cape, entirely out of the path of the race. It was a small cove with the sea rushing in and out of a large rock cavern.

"What?! But the finishline is that way! " Evans protested.

He was entirely correct.. the finish line was in a completely different direction. It was still warm out, beautiful, humid, the sky clear. But... "Look at the water!" Kitty said. "Not the sky!" The ocean should've been a beautiful deep blue like it was this morning. It was a steely grey. "They said the weather was going to be fine," Kitty said. "But something's coming."

Evans still wasn't completely convinced of... Well... Of anything really, but he decided to trust Kitty on this one... "Hokay, you're the captain..." he muttered, as he pushed the rudder into the oposite direction.

The commentator, a long way off, barely heard, broke out into all sorts of excited exclamations. Probably because the lead boat was going right off course. "Get out of the water!" Kitty called to the other close contender, but he gave her an odd look and continued on. The Black sunfish picked up speed as it began its course towards the cavern, and then lurched slightly as the wind picked up. Kitty held the sail steady, and the boat surged forward again. The wind was definitely stronger than it had been only a minute ago.

"HEY! What the... What's going on here?!" Evans shouted, as he felt the sudden surge. A shiver running down his spine. This was spooky stuff!

"They claim they can control the weather!" Kitty had to raise her voice now, as the waves began to rise higher. "But this area has always resisted climate control! And a warm day this late in the fall often means trouble..." She pointed with an exclamation of dismay behind them... dark clouds on the horizon now, racing towards them. The other boats were beginning to turn off-course now, other people beginning to realize that something was wrong.

<Where's an emergency beam-out, when you need one?...> Evans mused. "Is that cave even big enough for us?!" he shouted back, over the rapidly increasing winds.

"It's bigger up close!" was Kitty's response. They heard a low rumble of thunder in the distance... low, but deep, vibrating through the boat, through their bodies. The air began to taste like tin. "It can take us and a couple of others, if they make it in time!" She kept the sail filled, though the boat was barely able to take the speed on the increasingly rough ocean. They were nearing safety... and she wanted to get there as fast as she could.

Evans was struggling with the rudder at this speed. It was hard to be subtle and smooth with these forces. And then there was the added atmosphere. A "NJG!" escaped Evans, as the thunder rolled over them.

"Aah! Ok ok, I'm reducing sail.." It took all her strength to handle it now. The waves were rougher.. the boat pitched up and then down, throwing washes of water across the deck. Luckily the sunfish was self-bailing, but it was going to be swamped soon... A crackle of lightning played across the sky and then Kitty's shriek of alarm was lost in the loud response of the thunder. The boat tipped up towards the sky, down again, drenching them both. They were almost to the cave.. "I can't hold it steady!" Kitty cried in alarm, struggling with the sail.

"I've got it again! I think!" Evans said, as he kept the bow of the boat in the generally correct direction. A wave picked up the boat, and coasted it right into the cave. "Whoa! Hold this thing!" Evans called out.

Kitty dropped the lines and grabbed onto the boom itself, shoving it to the side, then gasped as it gave her a good shove and the boat coasted right into the cave. She might've been shoved out of the boat, except that the sudden lack of wind pressure on the sail stopped its swing and all it did was to stagger her. She coughed a couple of times, then reached for the lines again, taking in the sail as the roar of sea and wind abated somewhat. The thunder, though, echoed through the cavern. She looked around and silently pointed to a bit of rock shelf sticking out.. it was about all they had for 'ashore'.

Evans got a hold on the shelf. "Ok, what was that all about?!" he half demanded from Kitty. "I've never seen anything like that before."

"Someone's sailed in here before," Kitty said with a relieved laugh, climbing onto the shelf and tying the boat to a metal ring bolted into the rock. Then she started to shiver. She was soaked through, and the warmth of the day was quickly seeping out. "What, that? Looked like a quick-forming low to me. A cold front sweeping all that tropical air further out to sea." Another bright flash and a thunder rumble not two seconds afterwards, as she sat down on the rock shelf and coughed again. "Are you okay?"

"Oh, I'm fine..." Evans responded. And actually, he was, thanks to his suit. "Just a bit spooked...." Het got out of the boat too, unzipped the suit to the waist, unfolded the top portion of his suit, sat next to Kitty, and embraced her, in an attempt to warm them both up a bit. "How long do you think this is going to last?..." he asked.

Kitty snuggled close, resting her cold head against his shoulder. "The storm? No more than an hour or so. But the seas will be high for a long time afterwards."

"...Well..." Evans thought out loud. "I think I can live with an hour of this..." as he folded his arms around her. He felt her cold body warming up already.

"Me too," Kitty said. She shivered again and then became still, relaxing. She remained silent for a bit, then spoke. "I... I'm going to keep the chip."

"...Chip? What ch... Oooooh, that chip...Are you sure? I would keep it in a location away from you, and keep a copy, if I were you.." Evans said, temporarily caught off guard by the sudden change of topic.

"I think I'm going to give it back to Sulan.. and then try to forget about it. I don't think I want to make it a permanent part of my career." Kitty frowned. "The whole thing makes me so nervous."

"You could do that too..." Evans said, rubbing her back. "The sooner you are rid of it, the better for you, I guess... But I think it's important not to just make it disappear... I really have no idea what's best... I guess I never had to deal with a situation before, where I got hold of a chip from a department that doesn't exist... Officially, that is... Obviously..."

"I hope I didn't put you in danger by telling you about it," Kitty said with a worried look. "I really REALLY hope so." She smiled then, enjoying the backrub. The air temperature inside the cave dropped again.. it was no longer a warm day. It was more indicative of late fall now, and Kitty might not have been too chilly with her jacket and jeans if she hadn't been soaked through.

Evans wasn't feeling too hot either. "It's getting cold..." he said, glad to be able to legally change the subject. What do you think? Is it safe to head out again yet? You're the expert..." Awaiting Kitty's answer, he tried to hug her a bit tighter, to conserve as much heat as possible.

"No..." Kitty said. "We'd end up at the bottom of the ocean. But there is something we can do." She shifted closer, feeling the heat draining away. "There are a couple of waterproof flares and a beacon in the boat, but all this rock probably interferes with the signal. If we can set off a flare outside of the cave, I bet people are looking for us."

"Eh... How are we going to pull that off? Do they have a time-delay ignition?" Evans asked puzzled. "We could send the boat out with the beacon, but then we would be stuck for sure... And by the way, people know that we are here... They saw us fleeing in here."

"Yeah, but I bet they don't know we're soaked and getting colder by the minute..." Kitty frowned. "I could swim outside the cave and set off the flare."

"...We need to get out of these wet clothes..." Evans said, being absolutely serious. ""

"Into what?" Kitty asked, giving him an odd but amused look.

"Good point..." Evans said, blushing for his comment. "Isn't there something more in the boat? A first aid kit?"

"Sure there is. Are you hurt?" Kitty frowned, concerned.

"No, just cold... But if it's a naval kit, there should be one of those silver-foil heat insulating blanket thingies in them..." he said. "I heard those blankets are pretty good in their jobs..."

"I don't know if there is or not," Kitty said curiously. She climbed out from his embrace and stepped into the boat, rummaging around, then going through the medkit. "Yeah, but it's just a light one. It probably isn't big enough for both of us." She came up with that and a flare. She tucked the flare into her pocket.

"It's better than nothing..." Evans said. He thought for a few seconds, but before he was done with thinking, he just decided. "Ok, you go send that distress flare. I'm going to unwrap that tin-foil blanket, and try if I can make some sort of heater from that beacon... When you get back, dry yourself off as much as you can, and go sit with me... We have to share our bodyheat."

"Now that sounds like a dreadful fate," Kitty teased. She nodded, taking the order quite seriously. "I'll be back before you know it," she said, tossing him the tightly folded blanket-package, then she dived into the water easily, like a mermaid, and was lost to view.

Evans was done with his thinking now, and he came to the conclusion that he didn't agree with himself. But before he could call her back, Kitty was already gone. "WAIT!... never mind..." <Oooh, I hope I'm right...>

He stared at the disappearing form of Kitty for a while, before he came to his senses, and actually started to do what he had ordered himself to do. He activated the beacon shortly, seeing that it still had power, shut it down again. He opened the top, and looked around a bit, identifying the parts he would need for a heater... The battery, some wire, and a high-power resistor. The wire and battery were there... "Resistor, resistor... My kingdom for a resistor..." he mumbled, as he looked around. First in the beacon only, but then on the rest of the boat. <...Carbon is a nice resistor...> he thought, as he looked at the handle connected to the rudder. <That'll work...>

Kitty found the high waves a bit rough to swim in... she kept having to spit salt water out of her mouth. She struggled with the current, sweeping her back into the cave a couple of times before it pushed her up against the rock side. "Oof!" That knocked the breath out of her and she pulled herself up, taking a moment to rest before climbing up onto the rock face. She held herself stead and activated the flare, smiling as it sent up a bright sign of their existence high into the sky. She watched as it glittered, then realized that she had started shivering again. She dived back into the water and let the current sweep her back into the cave. By the time she was climbing out of the water onto their rock shelf again, the cold air was beginning to make her feel a bit numb. "I'm sleepy..." she declared. "But the flare is up."

Evans looked up from his handiwork for a second as he thought he heard the plop from the flaregun. He also thought he could see the glitter of the flare in the water, but that could have been his imagination... It was still day outside. He had managed to disassemble the rudder from the boat, and was on the ledge again, creating the simple electric heater from the parts he had available now. It wasn't the most difficult thing to do, and soon the carbon was emitting some heat. Not as much as Evans wanted, but at least it worked. He figured he could increase the output, by connecting the wires to the handle closer to each other, but that would drain the battery faster. Then he noticed Kitty trying to get out of the water, and he jumped up, and helped her on the shelf. He immediately used the sleeve of his wetsuit to wipe the water off of her. "I'm not asking you this because I want to see you naked, but I want to see you alive... Take that wet stuff off, please... It'll keep you from warming up"

Kitty looked at him and quirked a wry grin, then nodded. "Well, fair 'nough, but I don't think I have to take off everything for that." She unwrapped the jacket from around her waist, hanging it over part of the boat to dry, then pulled off her shoes, socks, and jeans, laying them out to dry. She shivered again, now wearing her t-shirt and underwear. "Please tell me you've got some sort of heating device working, because it's just getting colder fast out there."

Evans unwrapped the foil-blanket, and motioned Kitty to go sit in front of him, with her back against his chest. He reconnected the rudderhandle to the powersupply again, and it became warm. Not hot, but clearly warmer than the surrounding air. "Here, hold this against you." he said, as he wrapped himself around her as much as he could, and then wrapped the foil around himself. "Now we wait, and talk about stuff to stay awake..." he said, not missing Kitty's comment that she was feeling sleepy. "And you are going to be part of the conversation, you hear? You're not going to fall asleep... Not just yet..."

"Ah well.." Kitty said, starting to shiver as she warmed up past the numb stage. "There are times to be a prude, and I guess this isn't one of them." From inside the wrapped blanket, she pulled off the t-shirt and laid it aside before snuggling as close as she could. "I know I shouldn't sleep now, not when I'm cold like this. So.. uh.." She tried to ignore the fact that she was huddled very close to her boyfriend and in her underwear. "What do you talk about, at times like this?"

"Eh... I actually don't know... Did you know that Carbon makes a pretty good heater element?..." he just blurted out the first thing that came to mind... Well, the first decent thing, that is...

Kitty twisted her head around to look up at him and then just burst out laughing. She couldn't help it.

Evans snickered too..."Well, it was either that, or 'Will you marry me'..." Evans said. "Eh... I didn't mean that... No, wait I did... But... but..."

Kitty stopped laughing. She remained silent for a moment, then spoke quietly. "Well.. did you or didn't you?"

"Eh... O dear... I guess I did... But I don't know if I'm ready yet..." Evans was eating his words like a turkey dinner...

"That's alright," Kitty said, blushing badly. "I.. don't know if I'm ready, either."

Ronald was actually feeling a little stab through his heart there... "Oh... " he just answered. "But you do love me, right? Just like I love you?" he asked hopefully...

"Yes.." Kitty said softly. "If you love me like this.." And she shifted around to face him, her eyes looking quite large and soft, and proceeded to give him an entirely passionate kiss.

"MMMPH! Mmmmmmmm..." Evans mumbled, as he eventually gave into the kiss that took a couple of minutes, not only their little heater warming them up little by little. "mmmyeah, that's close enough..." he said, when they finally broke the kiss, his heartache completely gone again.

Kitty smiled and shifted back around to properly snuggle. Her shivers were easing a little now. "Close enough?" she asked, amused.

"Nope, not really... But it'll do..." Evans said, not too cryptically. There was no way they would fall asleep now, as they waited for that rescue mission to arrive...

Kitty leaned close in reply and fell silent.

"Hey! you are staying awake, aren't you? Hey! HEY! Wake up!" Evans shouted, as he shook her. "We're still too cold! Hey, what's green, and isn't a battletank? Come on... Give me an answer..."

"Mm.. wha..?" Kitty blinked and shook her head slightly. "Uh, green and not a tank? Hmm... An apple."

"It's a battletank in disguise..." Evans answered... It was a lame joke, but it was the only one he could think of right now... "Do you have a favorite stuffed animal? Mine's called Maximillian Droozle Divnofo... A bear..."

"Anastasia, a tiger," Kitty replied sleepily. "But I let Sulan borrow Elmer the Elephant to keep her company in the brig. I like that name. Do you have a nickname for him?"

"Eh? Yeah, I guess it's Droozle..." Evans answered. "What would a Vulcan do with a cuddly toy?" Evans asked, thankful for the subject that forced Kitty to think, and pretty curious... What WOULD a Vulcan do with a cuddly toy... Especially a cutthroat spy like Sulan...

"I don't know," Kitty said slowly. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. And she thanked me, and she held him carefully, like she knew what to do with a stuffed elephant."

"What *do* you do with a stuffed elephant? Cuddle it? I guess I would..." Evans said. "And what do you mean... HEY! stay awake! What do you mean by 'at the time?' It wasn't a good idea? I think it was sweet..."

Kitty shook her head again to keep it clear and then smiled. "Well.. thanks. I do these things just on impulse, because it feels like a good idea. Then I get the funny looks and feel awfully small. I'm glad I'm not a diplomat."

"Diplomats are the new lawyers... Too much politics." Evans answered at that. "You're sure that flare was seen, right?"

"I hope it was seen." Kitty said, shivering a little. "Soon... ...what's that?" It was a low tone, not unlike a foghorn. "That's them, that's a rescue boat! They won't be able to get in here, they're too big..."

"What do we do? Sail out?" Evans asked, hoping he wouldn't have to swim.

"The current and winds are both against us. We're gonna have to swim." Kitty made a face. "And I should probably put some clothes on first."

"Well, looks like we're getting wet anyway..." Evans said, as he released Kitty... "Ok, up, on your feet... Let's take a swim..." And with that, he zipped up his wetsuit again. "Normally, I would say 'Ladies first, but I don't know if that's appropriate in this situation..."

"Hold on." Kitty pulled on her t-shirt with difficulty and started trying to work her way back into the wet jeans. "This is NOT easy..." She grabbed the waistband and started jumping up and down. "I'll be in as soon as I can get these on."

Evans was zipped up already. Right now, he was glad that he put his wetsuit on. It had pretty much saved both their lives, Up to this point, at least... "Here, let me help you."Evans said, as he supported Kitty, and helped her into her jeans. "The sooner we're out of here, the better..."

Kitty blushed a little, but she let him help her back into her pants. "Thanks.." she said, smiling. "Let's go, before they give up on us." And with that, she dived right back into the water. Compared to the colder air, the water seemed warm now. The current was still strong.

Evans shrugged, looked behind him one last time, and jumped after her. He had no trouble keeping up with Kitty, but he was having trouble coping with the currents. It was quite a struggle...

Kitty was lighter and her slender figure made it easier to slip through the water. She took a couple of tries to get past the mouth of the cave, then she was making quickly for the rescue boat, which was moving slowly in their direction. "Over here!" she shouted, then got water in her mouth and started coughing, treading water.

Evans swam up to her to try and support her, and shouted and waved to the boat too. "Yo! Overhere! Freezing our hineys off!"

Then the megaphone of the rescue vessel cracked, and a voice could be heard. "Two people on the port bow! Let's get them out of there, Hands! You two there, how's the water? Mind if I join you?"

"By all means!" Kitty shouted back up. "It's warmer than the air!"

"Ooh, does it have bubbles?!" the voice over the megaphone sounded, belying the flurry of activity that was shown on deck, as a crane swung over the railing, with a rescue sling dangling from it.

"Oh, will you just get us out of the water please?! I'm in no mood for jokes right now!" Evans shouted back. Here they were in peril, and this guy was cracking jokes, for god's sake!

"Don't worry, we 've got you out of there on no time... Sheesh, keep your pants on... No, really, please, keep them on!" the megaphone answered.

"Wise guy!" Kitty looked up at the dangling sling and turned to Evans. "Go ahead, I don't think it's rated for two."

"Hey, I'm the one with the wetsuit, remember? Get out of here..." "Ronald, I.." "Now!"

Kitty turned and looked back at Evans for a moment, seeing the look in his eyes. Then she nodded and grabbed hold of the sling, settling into it. "I'll see you up on deck, 'kay?"

"Very soon." Evans answered. "Ok, take her up!" Evans yelled, and no sooner had he said it, and Kitty was lifted out of the water. As she was hoisted on deck, a couple of crewmembers immediately undid the sling, wrapped a real blanket around her, and tried to guide her inside of the vessel's cabin. The sling was promptly sent overboard again, to hoist up Evans.

Kitty refused to go. She pushed the crewmembers back, but kept the blanket. "Not until you bring up my crewmate. I want to see him up on deck."

The deck crew didn't persist, but they did warn her. "Ma'am, you're suffering from hypothermia. You would be wise to go below-decks as soon as possible. Really, it won't take a minute until we have Grumpy here out of the water too... Look, he already has the sling under his arms."

He was right. Evans hadn't fooled around. He was cold too, but the wetsuit had kept him from being badly chilled down. The crane was already winching in the line, and Evans was being lifted out of the water. "Yey, I can see my house from here..." he said. "Everyone's a comedian..." the voce over the megaphone retorted, A grin could be heard in the disembodied voice.

Kitty frowned. "Well, until 'Grumpy' is out I won't be suffering nearly enough to go below." She smiled at his comment and waved. "I'm here, hon!"

Evans resisted the urge to wave back. That would have been pretty clumsy, even for Evans. "I can see that... " He wanted to tell her to go inside, but he knew she was waiting for him, and wasn't going anywhere, if it wasn't with him. "I'll be with you in a second!" he shouted, as he was high enough up, to be swung over the railing. It was only going to be mere seconds, before they would be safe...

Kitty smiled as he got swung over the railing and hurried over to give him a big blanketed hug as soon as he was able to let go of the sling. "We're safe now.." she said softly, holding on as tight as she could.

Evans was relieved as well, but he was still in the cold wind. He hugged Kitty tight, and moved her in the direction indicated by the deck crew, into the cabin. The warm air of a heated room greeted them, and someone was already standing by with two cups of hot soup.

Kitty hardly even seemed to notice the cold until she felt the heat... and she was partway through her bowl of soup before she started really shivering again. "I'm sorry.." she told Evans. "This whole race was my idea, I should've known it would turn bad, I'm sorry..." The boat was rocking in the high surf as it set course for the opposite shore. "My racing idea put us both in danger..."

"Oh, there you go again..." Evans sighed, while caressing her back. "Blaming yourself for circumstances you don't have any control of. We almost won!"

"There I go again?" Kitty smiled wryly, leaning on his shoulder. "I've lived here all my life, I should have better weather sense than that." One of the crew chose this moment to peek into the cabin. "We've contacted the Black family, and we'll let you off at their dock. Meanwhile, you two just relax and warm up."

"Well, I didn't see it coming, as did the whole organization. You saw it coming sooner than anyone else. I think we better take that guy's advice, and enjoy the trip back. Please, stop blaming yourself. It's just being silly. And being silly is my job..." Evans said, giving her another hug. "Owww, I could really use some sleep..."

Kitty looked around the cabin, and picked up a spark of mischief in her dark eyes. "Ever slept in a hammock?"


Drawing disaster like a magnet:

Lt. Jg. Ronald Evans Helmsman Black Sunfish "One word... Wetsuit."

Lt. Kathleen Black Captain Black Sunfish