Falling Overboard


elaine_icon.gif rhett_icon.gif

Scene Title Falling Overboard
Synopsis In a storm, Elaine makes a near-fatal mistake.
Date January 16th, 2020

Ocean off the coast of the Safe Zone, the Skyfish.

It's pouring rain outside, like the sky just opened and the deluge is being released on the city. The water in the ocean is choppy, promoting the ships to head out away from the docks a decent distance, to avoid any collisions. While the water is chopping, and shoving hard against the ship, it's still a relatively large size, and though there is motion, Rhett and Elaine are safe inside.

The inside of the cabin is warm and cozy, and well lit with the various LED lanterns. They're collecting some objects together, some things from inside Rhett's house, into some of his waterproof plastic bins.

Objects to bring to Elaine's. They're working on a home.

Rhett is currently seated on his bed in the front cabin, handing some of his clothing over to Elaine, to transfer into one of the bins.

"Maybe finish this one, and I'll go out to fetch some fish," Rhett suggests to Elaine, considering one of his pairs of pants. It's a very well lived-in set of jeans that used to be black, but they're well broken in, faded in areas. He puts those aside; those are oriented to working on the boats.

While Elaine had gotten used to the rocking of the boat the first time she had visited The Skyfish, this was certainly a bit different. Rough weather for choppy water and it took her a little more getting used to for her to walk on board without feeling like she was going to lose her balance. Thankfully, there was plenty to hold on to and much of what was being done could be done seated.

Taking the clothes from Rhett, she moves over to the bins to start putting them away. “Don’t take too long, it looks kind of bad out there.” She watches him over her shoulder as she organizes the bin that’s currently open. “I’ll dig and see if you’ve got anything useful to cook with this time. Turned out okay last time.”

"Watch your head," Rhett says, standing, and guarding her head from a swaying lantern. Rhett's frustratingly well balanced on the boat, from years of storms and movements of the water. He's hardly bothered by it, and there's a sense of a kind of caring quality to seeing her work with the motion. He hadn't realized, and her awkwardness is adorable.

"I know it seems like I have nearly nothing, but I actually keep caches underwater, more than I keep things on my boats," Rhett clarifies. "Honestly, the storm and severity is all on the surface of the ocean. Once I'm down, it isn't dangerous at all, below. Other than being dark, I'll need my lamp; storms make it hard to see." Rhett comes over to stand behind her, pretending to steady himself by setting his hands on her waist from behind, looking at the bins. "I'll get the rest of my 'presentable' clothes and some of my bathroom things, and that should fill it, do you think?"

“I don’t know how you manage to live so sparsely but then I remember that you don’t have to look fashionable with new outfits on your job all the time,” Elaine says, teasingly. “You would be amazed at how much of a wardrobe you get when you are busy with people all day and you don’t want to wear the same thing two days in a row.”

She peeks in the bin. “I think that should fill it up just fine. Kind of nice to have more of your stuff moved in, too. Makes it move of a home.” She pauses. “We should do some kind of decorating, too. I hardly touched the design because it felt more of just a temporary place I was staying but I’ve been there for more than a year and never really did much other than throw a rug or two down for some color. It’s very… white.”

Modern look, clean looking at least, but still very stark. The look of an apartment for a high-tech professional, not the warm home she wants.

Rhett considers that, leaning forward to hug her around the middle, folding his arms in front of her, and putting his chin on her shoulder to look down into the bins. "What would you think of painting some of those white walls, then?" Rhett suggests, picking up on her cue about color. The man listens.

"Pick a few of the photographs from here, if you like them. Ones you don't, I'll still stare at while I'm out on a trip," Rhett chuckles. He noses her hair out of the way, kisses her ear once, and then moves aside to pick up the other clothing items — a warm looking dark brown leather jacket with a soft wool lining, and a group of scarves. He has a little collection of scarves.

“Oooh, painting some walls would be nice. Just something other than pure white would make it feel a little cozier. I’m not great with interior design but if I look at something I can tell you if I like it,” Elaine says, momentarily shutting her eyes to enjoy the closeness before he moves away. She turns back towards him as she looks at the collection of bins, then the photographs.

“I don’t want to take all your photographs, I should make sure you still have plenty. I don’t want you feeling like the place is less comfortable or lived in just because you’ve relocated.” She moves over to examine one of the photographs a little more closely.

"Yes, that's why I said a few. Besides. I'll still see them," Rhett says, and ventures, "At our place." He quiets, watching her for a reaction. His own expression is more his usual calm one, but there's an importance to it, a slight serious undertone that she'll detect only due to being familiar with him. Months ago, it would likely have been way too subtle.

If she hadn’t noticed the tone, she certainly noticed the words. Elaine looks back over at him, smiling gently. “I’ll be sure we hang them somewhere that we both can see them.” It’s all both of them—the objects, the planning, she’s doing her best to make sure that he’s included in everything so he understands that it’s home for both of them. “But you’re right, I’ll be sure not to take all the best ones.”

"Honestly, I like all the ones that I keep. You can pick the ones you think are the best," Rhett says, moving over to touch her again, brush her hair from her cheek. He's been particularly affectionate since she came on board. Whether it's just the timing, or his safe space that she's in, or a combination of factors might be hard to tell.

Rhett seems to remind himself, though, about the food. He's hungry. "I'll get that fish, I don't want it too dark, and if this storm gets heavier, I want to be back here with you. I shouldn't be more than about twenty minutes." Rhett offers her a kiss, and then bends to move to the front cabin area, removing his shoes and shirt.

“Twenty minutes, I’m holding you to that,” Elaine says, lingering for a minute near him before sneaking a small kiss onto his cheek. “You get that fish while there’s still some light, I’ll get some stuff prepped and ready for some fish. Bring back something good, alright?” She moves reluctantly from his side, heading over towards the kitchen area. “I can get the side dishes ready by then.”

"All right," Rhett agrees, with a flash of his warm smile. He heads past the kitchen zone, to go look through his gear, selecting one of his harnesses and spear, and a goggle set with an attached light. He leaves the goggles on his forehead, gives her a quick wave, and then exits directly out into the rain. He stands out in the heavy deluge of water on the deck as if it were entirely sunny, putting his goggles on, checking on the speartip.

All water is pleasant to Rhett, and the pouring weather sleeks over him as he comfortably moves to the side and does an easy dive over, disappearing into the waves and rain.

Elaine watches him leave from the window, leaning in close to it to peer through the blurry lines of rain. She stays where she’s at for several minutes, watching the rain and the spot he dove overboard before she turns back to the kitchenette and their groceries. It’s easy for her to wait when she’s occupied, so she organizes the whole rest of the meal, complete with plates ready nearby for the food when it’s all ready to go. When the side dishes are done, she covers them to keep them warm and sets them out of the way so that there’s space to prepare the fish as soon as he’s brought it.

Moving away, she scoots over to the table where her phone sits, peeking at it for the time. She can’t remember when he left, so it doesn’t particularly help her and she sits down, peering at the window for the first time since he left to try and see how bad the weather’s gotten.

The boat pitches as she gets back to the window, enough to possibly even jar her into it if she's not taking care. The items in the boat move; lots of pants and things are specifically latched to the walls, the cabinets have hooks to keep them shut, for this exact reason. What may have been kind of strange now shows great purpose, as things sway in the kitchen from the sea's motion and chop.

The deck has gotten very dark, and the rain makes it impossible to see even all of the deck at this point, just with how heavy the rain is.

Far below, Rhett isn't aware of the choppy water, though the darkness is an issue. He checks some of his traps, but finally resorts to some high-speed predatory style fishing. He's not trying to take a while, but he'd expected the traps to grant something. Even so, he's collected two fish, and pauses, fiddling with his light, below the waves.

The unexpected pitch of the ship sets her off-balance, but Elaine manages to not fall flat on her face by grabbing on to the nearest solid surface, whatever happens to be nearby that won’t fall or break off with a little weight. Once she gets her full balance again, she lets go, moving away from the window a bit. Her attention once more goes to her phone where she checks the time, the slightest curve of a frown on her lips.

Had it been longer than she thought? Her gaze sweeps the cabin for something to occupy herself, something for her hands or her mind to keep herself from letting worry creep in. Spotting where he’d left his shoes and shirt, she moves to fold the shirt and set it nicely with his shoes where he’ll be able to reach it when he gets back. The worry, however, sets fully in and she returns to the window to peek out.

With the storm making it darker, she’s not sure if it’ll be easy for him to find the boat. Frowning, she moves to grab her coat, buttoning it up before she opens the door. She’s struck by how much water there is just from what’s coming down, and she steps out of the way to secure the door so no water is sent in by the wind and the rain while she’s outside. She walks very carefully towards the side she saw him leave from, peering down at the water.

Naturally, she sees nothing useful. Even if it had been lighter out and not storming it would be very difficult to see much, and just movement if anything. Now, there was nothing. He had to be down there somewhere, or maybe he had come to the surface to look for the boat. Maybe he could hear her.


She calls loudly, though she finds the storm swallows most of the sound. Unless he had been close, she doubts he heard her. But before she can take further action, the ship pitches again. While before she had something solid to grab on to, this time she had nothing and the addition of a very wet and very slippery deck. She’s sent off her feet, crashing to the side of the ship where the momentum sends her teetering dangerously. She struggles, her hands trying to find some purchase somewhere on the side of the ship but the surface is slick and she hadn’t worn her gloves.


Without anything to brace herself with, the next lurch of the ship causes her weight to tip just enough to fully slide over the edge, down into the water below before she even has a chance to scream. The storm would have eaten her words anyway.

The water is freezing cold. January in the oceans of New York is cripplingly cold, to wrench her body into a whole other world of shock. Her clothes immediately are heavy, water rushing in to add what feels like extreme weight to clothes formerly intended to keep the water out: now it's in all of those layers, adding more and more clutching cold pulling downwards.

The top of the water is choppy, forcing her up and down under the frothing waves. The ship nearby, though it's very obvious where it is, is in deep motion against the waves; some of them reach up towards the deck to spill across it, and then the ship drops low in a roll in the water, only to get lifted well out of her reach.

Below, Rhett is on his way back, using his landmarks on the floor, and then smoothly starting to come towards surface, navigating with efficiency, but no real hurry…

While Elaine wasn’t the best of swimmers, she prided herself on at least being able to tread water, if a little weakly. That was of no help in this situation. While it may keep her nearer to the surface than perhaps it would have been otherwise, the motion of the water, the rise and fall of the waves and the continued torrent of water from above make it hard to breathe, much less swim.

While she manages to hold her breath when she goes under, for the most part, it’s when she surfaces and the choppy water hits her that she has difficulty with, the water hitting her full on and not giving her much of a chance to catch her breath. Somewhere in the back of her head she remembers she needs to move towards the boat, though her efforts to simply stay up and her efforts to swim seem to be switching off and on which is more important.

Rhett wasn't looking for people or things in the water. It's choppy and dark, there's motion everywhere. He simply came back, very very rapidly, suddenly coming up from under the water at the bow of the ship, port side. He lands neatly on the deck, taking care to snare part of his rail as the ship takes a lunge. He heads towards the door, but immediately stops. He didn't leave the inner door open.

He jerks it open quickly. "Elaine?" he asks sharply, inside. He enters, dumping the spear and checking quickly. Bathroom is open. She's not there. His heart is in his throat, and he runs back outside onto the deck, scanning, fighting a rising panic.

Every bit of her tries to get closer to the boat, but the more she tries, the harder it is to catch her breath. The boat only looks farther away, regardless of how hard she tries to move towards it. Elaine coughs and sputters, doing her best to try and focus on breathing and staying above the waves for a half a second so she can think, so she can not panic and think what to do.

She looks around, trying to see if there’s anything in the water that could help her, anything closer than the boat. But there’s nothing. There’s just water, there’s the boat impossibly far away, and she’s alone. Now that panic’s really setting in.

Rhett runs out down the deck to the far end, using his ability in the heavy rain, aiding in making sure he's not going to slip. "Elaine!" Rhett yells into the dark storm. He isn't using the ship as a better position, other than that it's higher, so he can see further. He checks one side, then the other.

Is she in the water? HOW did she get in the water? "ELAINE!" Rhett continues to hunt, then dives off suddenly. He's very fast, a circuit around the boat, if she's recently fallen into the water, could work, he hopes. But how long ago?

Rhett begins a very quick spiraling check, starting at the boat and moving outwards, trying to just focus, fight his emotions. What if he doesn't find her? What if …

A choppy wave shoves her under deeply, forcing her suddenly very close to the boat. The boat heaves and moves, the water pulling her partially down, under it. The form of her body coming downwards, though, gets Rhett's attention, and he's shooting towards her, his fear leaping to a fever pitch, to rush to get her out of harm's way…

Breathing was hard, but she had managed it when the waves tossed her before. She can’t, however, anticipate how the waves will move, and while the boat is now tantalizingly close, the sudden movement pulls Elaine under with hardly a chance to catch her breath. The water is strong, and she tries, moving her arms and legs, to somehow surface from this one. But it’s dark and it’s cold and her lungs are burning as she tries to hold what breath remains.

But she’s moving. For now. She’s still struggling.

Rhett rockets up to her, approaching her from the back. His arms come around her quickly, as the boat lurches and he turns them to take the impact from the hull in the back left shoulder, protecting her from it. He huffs a breath out underwater, a thick bubble of air escaping, but breathes in deeply of the salt water while pushing forward and away off the boat.

Elaine is his priority, and he adjusts his hold and brings them quickly to the surface. He brings her head up above, trying to check on her in the chaos, shielding as much as he can in the rolling water. "Elaine?! Elaine," Rhett asks, quickly, terror thick in his voice, but trying to stay calm and collected. "Get a breath, you're okay, I've got you," he says in a rush.

He gets a sputter of a response, an attempted breath spiraling into a cough. But her body’s trying to breathe, regardless if Elaine has full control over it anymore. Even when he initially grabbed her she was struggling, perhaps not even fully aware of his presence. Now, with them surfaced, her arms and legs move less, though it’s hard to tell if it’s because she’s aware that he’s got her or if she’s just losing strength.

Regardless of which is true, she’s certainly not focused. Everything is fuzzy, the sounds around her sounding hollow like she’s in a tunnel. There’s something, something going on around her but she can’t tell what.

"Just breathe, breathe," Rhett insists, feeling a crush of relief hit him. He found her, she's breathing. They aren't out of the woods, but she's coughing, though he can sense her weakness. "Just breathe, that's all, honey," Rhett says, focused on being calm and safe for her if she can hear him. He adjusts his hold, though he doesn't let go at all: not happening, and the way he's holding her is decent for him: he can keep her easily above water, since it isn't like he has to breathe, so he can stay downwards and under a little.

Rhett orients to the boat, and brings them both that way, rotated to be mostly underwater himself and under her. He can't block all of the choppy water, but he can easily keep them on the top of the waves. He speeds up, wincing at the sloshing, hoping she's still all right, but gets up some speed to propel them up out of the water to the boat's deck. It's not a graceful landing, because he's holding her weirdly and everything is moving, so he stumbles and ends up skidding, but they're up and out of the water at least. He puts her down on the deck, leaning over her, to use his torso to block the rain.

Elaine is vaguely aware he’s there, more so with the movement and the sudden presence of them on the deck. There’s less water coming at her now, so she takes a moment, coughing and sputtering to expel any bit of water she has. She breathing, at least, even if it is in heavy gasps, a desperate sucking in of air. With the presence of air, her field of vision is slightly less blurry but it doesn’t change the fact that everything hurts, and she’s exhausted, and she feels numb.

For a moment, she actually tries words. She knows he’s there even if she can’t fully understand what’s happening, and she wants him to know that she knows that. It doesn’t come, though, it’s just noises in the middle of gasps.

Rhett has moved into a mode he used to adopt in emergency situations professionally. The war, pulling people out of emergencies: there's history for him, here. This also is not the first person he's pulled out of the water.

She's expelling the water on her own, so he doesn't do more than help her to do that, laying on the deck. At first, just giving her time to get those deep gasps in is first, then he leans further over her, drawing a hand to her upper chest. "I'm going to help you now, just keep coughing it up," he encourages her. He bites his lip, and draws on his ability, trying to catch into the specific liquid, from her lungs, and with a heaving flex, pulls, pressuring the water to come forth, without continued deep spasms that will exhaust her further to clear it.

Rhett tries to get his brain to give him the next steps, but he just can't process it yet, wanting to hug her tight, but needing her to stabilize her breathing, to recover, before he can do an action that might squeeze the life out of her.

It’s a lot easier to get the water out when she only has to cough, not heave to expel it. Elaine’s listening to what he’s saying. Simple commands, she seems to be able to handle that. Her breathing becomes more like breathing, which takes some of the tension off and allows her a little more focus. Enough focus to remember when she’d experienced that narrowing of vision and everything sounding fuzzy.

Without the water, she can rasp some words. “Might… pass out…” They’re audible, if breathy.

"Nope, stay with me here, Elaine," Rhett shakes his head, kissing her forehead, and turning, to twist. He sheds his harness quickly down off his shoulders; he doesn't want her stabbed by one of the big hooks on it he normally uses to attach fish to. That done, he can safely gather her up, carefully trying to pick her up. "Just hold onto me, please. Nice and tight. We're going inside to get you warmed up, you're an ice cube," Rhett tells her with a kindness in his voice to mask his still raging fears and guilt.

"Focus on me now, breathe. You're safe; I'll get you nice and warm," Rhett promises her, carrying her inside, whether or not she's able to help him. He doesn't go inside very far, just into the kitchen area, before easing her down, and starting to strip off her shoes and coat, trying to get the freezing items off of her.

“Trying…” Elaine murmurs. He’s got those simple commands again, and she does her best to follow them. Her ‘nice and tight’ grip is just barely enough to steady her, but it’s enough that he knows she’s following what he’s saying. Once they’re inside, she has enough focus to recognize what he’s trying to do. She moves, not really able to pull clothing off herself, but she can move her arms into a better position to remove her coat. She’s focusing better.

“Guess I found you,” she says, still doing her best to try and shake off the fuzziness that was trying to pull her into unconsciousness.

"Scared me to death," Rhett laughs softly. It's not even a little bit funny, but the laugh is coming from the extreme stress and fear. He's not at a point where he's relaxed or relieved: she's covered in freezing clothing and keeps talking like she's going to pass out.

"You're doing perfectly, honey, just keep breathing, you're helping great," he says, as he pulls off her coat, and then quickly gets to his feet, to step over her and pull from his cupboard of towels. The boat lurches and three of them fall out, so he has to bend to pick them up, as he squats down next to her again.

He continues to remove the wet, heavy clothing. There's no time to be odd about nudity; he's working to get the cold wet things off, and wrap the towels around to dry her, and rub warmth into her with both towels and by hand. Rhett himself isn't cold, and attempts to use his body heat for her benefit, massaging her hands first.

Elaine isn’t bothered by the removal of clothes, it’s freeing more than anything. Freedom from the numbing cold, freedom from that weight that kept pulling her down. He’s helping her and it slowly feels better. She tries to find ways to help, feebly, but she mostly remains where she is and watches him. She’s just working on staying awake, staying alert. He can’t help with that part of things, it’s all on her.

She wiggles her fingers slowly, testing to make sure they’re moving properly as he rubs heat into them. “Am I okay?” She asks, sounding only the tiniest bit concerned.

"Yes, Elaine, yes. You're going to be okay," Rhett says. His voice is entirely not even at all; telling her that sort of broke his concentration and his cool, and he swallows hard, passing a hand over his face, the impact of all of it starting to really crash over him.

Rhett pushes that away, and continues to focus, to dry her. He puts a towel over his pants, and with a flex of his ability, sends all the water out of them, into the towel. He throws that into the sink, as well as the other wet ones, including his harness. It has no fish on it — he lost those during the rescue. Rhett looks around, and pulls down the throw blanket off of the couch adjacent to where they are. Rhett moves up against her, spooning his warmer, larger body to hers, and burritos them both in the blanket.

"You're okay. You're safe. You're safe."

“I’m okay. I’m safe.”

It’s not an echoing of his words. The tone in Elaine’s voice is strong. He had said his words to comfort her, but her words are meant to comfort him. While things are still fuzzy, she’s feeling better. Things make sense again, she’s aware of things around her and aware of him. She’s aware of the emotions he’s got brewing under there, she doesn’t have to be an empath to see that. She’s still got some residual confusion and a hell of a lot of tiredness, but she’s awake and aware enough to pay more attention to him.

“I’m here. I’m not going.”

Now that she's not in immediate life-threatening danger, and Rhett has run out of things to do to help her other than to just hold her and massage warmth slowly into her arms with his hands, he's struggling to keep things intact emotionally.

That wash of terror and worry comes in hard and fast, heat and intensity in his face as he tries to unlock the clench of his jaw. He masks as much of it as he can from her, intending to be strong and calm for her during her emergency, but his break is very much happening, and it involves shaking from the tension that's easing out of his hands, and quiet tears.

Elaine’s hands move up to take his, to hold them. She nestles in against him, the way she usually does, tucking herself against his body. Where she’s safe. It’s familiar. It’s how things often are. It’s her way of showing him that things are okay. She knows that he was scared. She was scared but it’s too numb a feeling for her to feel it right now. That’s a problem for later.

“You’re okay too,” she assures him. “We are here and we are safe and we are okay.”

"I didn't know where you'd gone," Rhett says, swallowing, drawing one hand across her palm, her fingers, still trying to warm her hands by cupping them inside his larger ones. There's a gentle sense that he's treating her like she's delicate, precious.

"I'm so sorry, Elaine. I took so long to find you," he says, voice breaking, from the self blame and stress of the whole situation. He was indeed very scared; he can only imagine how scared she must have been, out in the freezing water. He tries to find a way to help: "are you still cold or numb anywhere?" he asks, nose set near her nape, any wetness that may be on his face disappearing into her hair.

“I went to look for you,” Elaine murmurs. She didn’t mean in the water, that was the unintentional part, but she’s aware of how it sounds. She doesn’t correct herself. “I slipped. I shouldn’t have gone out but it was so stormy and I thought you might get lost. I didn’t want you to be lost. I still found you, though.”

Not exactly the intended method of finding him. Whatever terror’s in there for her, it hasn’t quite set in or his presence is enough to keep it at bay for the moment. “I’m a little cold but as long as you’re here like this I’ll be fine.” She shuts her eyes, just for a brief moment and breathes out. “I’m sorry I scared you.”

"Life vest for you whenever you're on the deck. No exceptions. I'm not leaving you in this storm, either," Rhett says, his voice broken, a bit tortured. The reality of her maybe just being GONE into the waves is certainly on his mind, and he resists the urge to squeeze her tight, though he does continue to rub her hands, and up along her forearms, and draw his legs in a little, as if he could warm her more that way.

"It's okay. Breathe and rest," Rhett whispers, kissing the back edge of her neck where it joins her shoulder, and pretends to rest. His eyes are open, though, looking into the haunted visions of what could have happened.

Elaine’s exhausted, but she actively tries not to rest. “I promise to be safer,” she insists. While she doesn’t know quite what to say to comfort him, the urge is there. “It couldn’t be helped. It was an accident. Things happen sometimes and they just happen. I’m alright, though, and you’re alright, so things are good.”

In his quiet, it sets in. “I didn’t want to leave you.” Her voice is softer. “I tried to fight.”

"Yes. We're all right. We're safe here," Rhett agrees, still quiet, but puts another kiss on her neck, and she'll feel him move his head a little, to more comfortably tuck it behind her. His chest is warmed now, a heat source strong against her and around her, his embrace enveloping to give as much of his warmth as he can.

"I will always come back."

Rhett pauses. "I will always find you. I promise." He swallows heavily and shuts his eyes, licking his lips and trying to make himself start to calm down.

Elaine does feel a little more comfortable, a little safer with him settled in close, his presence warm and making her feel less like icy death. His words make her tuck in a tiny bit closer. “I promise you I won’t stop fighting until you get there.”

It’s her half of the promise now. She didn’t fail before and she didn’t intend to the next time something bad happened. “Maybe I’ll keep fighting even afterwards. Just to make sure.” There’s a little laugh from her this time, maybe to break the tension. “… I wasn’t sure if I’d make it.”

"Let's just try to stay together, instead," Rhett says, a smile coming to his lips as well as his voice. "I don't think we do so well apart," he says, gently, drawing a hand up to stroke her hair, reaching up to one of the towels, to continue to softly press the chilly water from her hair. Yes, there's some use of his ability, pushing the water into the towel.

"You need to fight, and make it," Rhett answers. "You're my home." He swallows again and rests his nose against her nape, finally letting his body shudder and relax.

“I don’t think we did so well apart before we even met,” Elaine murmurs. “But we’re better together. We’re a team.” It’s something she believes wholeheartedly. But if there’s something he could have said that would hit her hard, it’s that. His home. She swallows, tears welling up in her eyes, but she does her best not to let them spill. She merely runs her hands along his, a gentle touch of affection.

“I like being home,” she murmurs. She either means this, how they are… or that she’s happy he’s found a home, but it’s more likely both. She lets out a deep, somewhat shaky breath. “I am going to shut my eyes now, just for a minute, okay?” The ache and the weariness is finally catching up to her.

Rhett is silent for a little while, not trusting his voice. He felt it, so he said it; perhaps it was not the right time, but he won't retract it, either. This use of home is less of a place, it's something different that he can't define. But it has to do with her.

"I'll watch over you," Rhett tells her, nodding, when she asks to close her eyes. He'll be with her, keeping her warm, even as the ship continues to move under them. He returns to silence, but it is comfortable silence, to let her close her eyes, to let her body unwind and rest from the battle for life.

“Home…” Elaine murmurs, her voice heavy. It’s clear she’s been fighting off sleep for some time. Time to talk to him, time to be with him. “I’ll always fight to come home. Fight for you.” She tries to talk, but it slowly drifts into mumbles that don’t make sense, and eventually her grip on his hands loosen as she finally just gives in to the sleep her body demands of her.

But it doesn’t matter, because she’s home.


Rhett stayed with her until she fell asleep. He continued to stay, for quite some time, to keep his body heat and warmth close to her. Continuing to slowly rub her arm, and then enfold her again, relaxing there. After he's sure she's warmed up, Rhett moves, tucking her into the blanket securely. He fetches pillows and another fleecey blanket, and then navigates the rocking boat to clean up, and to work on the food. He would have considered moving her to the bed, but it seemed best with the rocking boat to not try to do that.

He's certain he wants a hot dish to put more warmth in her, and opts to pull together a vegetable soup. He keeps an eye on her as she rests; she's quite close to where he is, as he'd originally placed her just to the side of the kitchen in the nest of pillows and blankets.

The scent of the vegetable soup though begins to permeate the cabin of the boat as it cooks.

It's a deep sleep out of necessity. Elaine's body requires some time to rest and so it takes it while she can. When she comes around, it's a slow awakening. The soup rouses her senses until she's eventually aware of things again. She blinks a few times, taking in where she is and what he's doing.

She slowly sits up, the blanket cocoon coming with her. She doesn't rush it, not wanting to make herself dizzy in the process. "Soup?"

Her voice is a little hoarse and she coughs a little to try and clear it, only to wince in pain.

"Soup," Rhett agrees, turning to look over and down at the cocooned butterfly nearby. "Welcome back," he says, with clear relief in his tone. He's been concerned about her, though he knew resting was exactly what was needed to bring her to recovery. He stops what he's doing to come over and squat near her, the worry apparent in his eyes and lowered brow. He's checking on her, and trying to be calm, but he's just not.

She does seem okay, though, and the soup is nearly done, so he has to return to it. "Let me know when you're ready for some," Rhett says, stirring the soup and sampling it on a spoon. It's decent. "And I'll bring you a little to start with, warm you from inside. I also have some tea."

Elaine certainly seems quite a bit better in that she's awake and aware and not as weak. She holds herself up well, though she makes no move to get up or untangle any of her limbs from the blankets. "I could take some soup. And maybe tea too."

While things hurt, hot things sound appealing. "Did you sleep any? Are you okay?" Even though she's still not a hundred percent, she's worried about him.

"My shoulder's been better, but I'm all right," Rhett answers her. He has a shirt on, a light gray long-sleeved one, so there's no obvious visual on what may be up with his shoulder. He fills a deep but small bowl with soup, adds a spoon, and brings it to her, bending to offer it with a dish towel around it. "Hot, be careful," he warns, leaving that with her while he gets the rest of the tea finished. The soup itself is not delicious; it's a little bit on the bland side because Rhett has trouble with balancing flavors, but it's hot and hearty.

Soon enough he brings a mug over with steamingly hot tea, and sets it on the nook in the table near where she's bundled up. He goes back for his own bowl and mug, and climbs over the variety of blankets and towels to ease down next to and partially into her nest.

Elaine's grip is alright as she's handed the bowl. While she's certainly aching, the strength is mostly there, enough to manage. She takes a few bites with no complaints, heaving a deep breath out in relief. It's easing, the warmth and flavor and certainly enough to keep her going. She takes a few more bites before turning her attention away from herself and back on him.

"I love you." It's soft, tender, but at the same time strong.

Rhett is keeping a close eye on her, without being overly invasive. That's the bedside manner thing he's exhibited lightly before. He's well suited to care for others: and he cares deeply for this particular patient.

He started to relax as she was clearly eating, looking down into his own soup, until she talks to him softly. Rhett looks at her immediately, eyebrows concerned. "I love you too, honey," Rhett says, moving one hand to touch her forearm. "Are you cold, do you want to borrow a shirt?" he asks. "It'll be big, but warm."

Elaine nods after a moment. “A shirt would be nice,” she agrees, looking back over at him. She seems in thought briefly before she speaks again. “Chan eil tuil air nach tig traoghadh.” The translation doesn’t come immediately. She lets the words and the sound of them sit before she gives an explanation. “It’s Scottish gaelic. A saying. ‘There is no flood that will not subside.’”

She looks back to her bowl. “Anyway, I thought it was appropriate.”

Rhett gave her a quizzical look as he set his soup down out of the way, then smiles. “I’m glad to have you back,” he says softly.

Rhett sits up fully and actually takes his shirt off; it’s light gray and soft, and offers it to her. “Pre-warmed, madame,” Rhett says, moving his other hand to offer to hold her bowl while she deals with the shirt.

Elaine smiles back at him, speaking no more on the topic but instead focusing on the fact that he’s literally giving her the shirt off his back. “You didn’t have to give me this one,” she says with a laugh, but she doesn’t protest other than that, handing him her bowl while she pulls the shirt on over her head. “But thank you, all the same.”

She moves to take her bowl back, but instead of actually taking it, she rests her hands atop his, just seeking the connection wordlessly.

Rhett nods simply about the shirt, his smile wry as she accepts the warm garment from him. “I know I didn’t,” Rhett answers. “But it was the best choice.”

Rhett looks at her hands, then at her, questioning.

Elaine keeps her hands atop his, making no move to pull them away, nor any move to do anything else. She just seems to need things to be just like that for a moment. “I think this is my favorite shirt now,” she says, suddenly smiling broadly. Then she releases his hands, taking the bowl back, but it’s as if all the tension that was there before has eased its way out of her.

“I might just have to keep this shirt,” she says, looking around. “We did do a decent job packing your things up. Though I feel like my side of the closet is going to look overstuffed compared to yours.” It’s hard, but she’s trying to push forward.

“Looks good on you,” Rhett says as if he were dismayed by the fact that she’s outshining him in his own shirt. He lets her have her soup, but doesn’t reach for his own yet. He moves a hand to gently stroke her hair.

He’s just watching her, without talking further, taking in her movement and just… all of her. He was very scared. And just being with her is a big deal.

Elaine continues to eat her soup, but the words continue to flow between bites. “I’ll keep the shirt then. It’s soft. Might be nice to sleep in. I thought I might take the opportunity to go through my wardrobe and clean it out a bit. Get rid of some things I don’t particularly wear… although it’s hard to let go any of the dresses I’ve worn to galas in the past. There’s something that feels particularly nice about dressing up… kind of makes you feel really special.”

She reaches over to take a long swallow of her tea, not seeming to mind the heat from either the soup or the tea. Seems the heat’s more soothing than anything so she’s working on both at a quick pace.

Rhett isn’t pivoting to a different topic as easily. Or at all. He does listen to her attentively, but his blue eyes are still full of that tender, mild emotion related to taking care of her.

Rhett does begin to eat, though, after she seems to really be talking and eating, and he’s more convinced she’s doing better. Finally he answers, “I’d love to see your ‘gala’ side.”

“I usually work them, but the bonus is that I get to be front and center and I have an excuse to dress up however elegantly I want,” Elaine’s attention, for a moment, goes to the story she’s telling. It’s enough to make her forget about what happened, even if only briefly. “I can tell you for sure, though, while I enjoy how I feel dressed up, I certainly enjoy being seen by someone I care about in something like that.”

She smiles, for a moment, but her eyes turn back to him. “It’s funny because it’s the sort of look you give me when I’m just making dinner or something.”

“What does the look say?” Rhett asks, curious. “Translate my body language,” he invites to her, but leans in to put a kiss on her ear, then her cheek. All of the body language exhibited speaks of his care for her. It’s intimate without leaning sensual at the moment.

“Maybe I love dinner,” Rhett teases her, leaning back to eat his soup innocently, but his smile is still present, gaze enjoying her.

Elaine smiles warmly at the kisses, the tiniest bit of color on her cheeks. “I don’t think it was dinner you were looking at with those eyes, Rhett.” She looks away only briefly to continue with her soup, hurrying to finish it off before it gets cold. When she looks back at him again, her gaze is soft, welcoming. “I have it on good authority that look is reserved for someone you really, really love.”

She narrows her eyes for a moment. “Or a really good pork loin. One of those.” She grins.

“It can be both,” Rhett answers, though his tone betrays it doesn’t really mean that from him. “But in this case… it was always you.” Rhett smiles at her over his bowl, and then raises it to quickly finish the last of his soup, putting the bowl aside.

He adjusts position to rest with his back against the couch, moving one leg aside, making a space for her to slide back and rest against him, without actually directly indicating it.

With both bowls carefully set aside and him repositioned, Elaine scoots over to settle against him, tugging her nest of blankets with her to tuck in around the both of them. “I have a question,” she starts, as she leans her head in against his chest. “You don’t have to answer it, if you don’t want to.” She lets out a slow breath before continuing. “What was it like, having siblings?”

She pauses for only a second. “I grew up as an only child and the closest I came to having siblings was when I met some of the kids at the Lighthouse back when that was a thing. They see me as a sister, it’s nice to feel like people can look up to you but… you had something very specific. It’s not the same as what I had. I’d… I’d like to know about it, if that’s okay?”

"Well," Rhett says, slowly. "They were fifteen years younger than I was. I was in high school when they came along. My parents had me very early. I think… my sisters coming along kind of saved their marriage, in a way. They'd been having a very tough time, and then the girls came, and they sorted it out." Rhett releases a slow breath, drawing one hand up to cradle her head against his chest, though his other hand does move to pick up his hot tea.

"So, they were kids; baby siblings is maybe different than having grown up with them, but…. I don't know. I went from being an only child to babies in the house," Rhett chuckles. "I got along well with them, though. Always did. Chloe, and Lauren." He drinks his tea, contemplative. "I promised to always look after them, and I did… everything I could." He looks into his cup, then to her hair, brushing his fingers through it.

“It seems like you did,” Elaine says, shutting her eyes for the moment to just listen to him talk and enjoy the way he touches her hair. “You’re gentle and sweet and I can tell that a lot of that comes from who you are at your core. They were lucky to have you. I would have loved to have an older sibling when I lost my parents.”

Just thinking about it is a little hard, but she brushes it off. “Do you think they would have liked me?”

"Considering how much they liked to eat sweet things, even if they didn't at first you would have won them over," Rhett chuckles at her softly. "They were seven when my parents died," he supplies, a little uncomfortably: but it's just the sound his voice takes on when he tries to avoid being sad. It's a slightly strained tone of voice.

"How old were you?" Rhett asks, still continuing to touch her hair, and then her neck some, with a slight knead of palm into the area of her neck and her shoulder. With the large shirt, there's some open skin there for him to rub his fingers into, a soft massage.

Elaine can tell there’s some tension there, but she keeps the conversation going. It’s present and painful, but it’s not going too far and at the same time not letting it drop. “I was fourteen. Barely starting high school. Just old enough to think I could take care of myself, just young enough to really need my parents. It was awful. I didn’t know how to handle it and the next four years were just me moving around with nothing stable.”

She shakes her head a little and but then rests it against his chest again. “Losing parents when you’re young is… it’s tough. I’m glad they were there for you. They weren’t the only ones who needed someone.”

"They helped. I couldn't just shut down, I had to be there for them. They didn't understand it. And I had to keep them safe, in the war, when everything was exploding. When everyone was just — dying in the streets, to those attacks," Rhett says, some of the horror of what it was coming to his mind and his voice. He holds her close, moving one arm across her front like a seatbelt.

"Can I ask, how yours died?" Rhett inquires gently.

“The very first bomb, after everyone found out about expressives, the one in Midtown. They were close to where it went off, so they died instantly, which I guess is better than the people who died after from exposure,” Elaine murmurs, shaking her head. The arm, however, seems to make her feel secure and she moves her arms up to hug it against her.

“It was even before the war, so I got to deal with growing up an orphan only for the world to go to shit once I tried to find a life again.” She looks back up towards him. “The world’s not going to go to shit again, not when I’m finally happy.”

"Mine were very active at the start of all of that. Helping the injured," Rhett says. "They were too close to it all. But that's what they wanted to do. Where they needed to be." He lowers his head towards hers, just to set his cheek on her hair briefly: at least, until she turns to look up at him. The loss weighs heavily.

But they have something they're building on top of all the ashes. "Our world isn't shit," Rhett answers, and offers her a kiss. He tastes lightly of tea, but only very lightly, as his ability purifies away traces. "I say we hold it close and never let this go," Rhett decides.

Elaine takes the opportunity to kiss him back, letting it linger for just a moment. She just wants to enjoy just being there. “I know there’s a lot in this world I can’t explain, but I do know who and what I love and where my priorities lie. You and I are something I find worth fighting for, regardless of what we’re fighting against.”

She lets out a deep breath. “So you’re right. I plan on holding it close and not letting it go.”

"I know that I love you," Rhett says, simply, after the kiss breaks. He kisses her forehead next, and then finishes his tea, putting the emptied up out of the way. Now he has both arms to bring around her, securely. He's a little chilly, lacking a shirt, his bare arms have some goosepimples on them from a brief chill, but he's keeping her warm as primary priority.

"My Elaine," Rhett smiles, a tender quality to it, letting his eyes close and his nose rest near her hair.

The sentiment is one that causes a blush, mostly because of how sweet and honest it is. Elaine shifts so she can wrap her arms about him. It’s also serving the purpose of keeping him warm. “The world brought you to me and I plan on keeping you, so it’s a very good thing you love me back or this would be very awkward.” The last bit is said with a small grin.

“You know, we can crawl into bed if it would be warmer for you. I probably won’t fall over if I stand up.”


"Let's do it," Rhett says. "Did you finish your tea, or want any more of that or the soup?" he asks her, switching into caretaker mode without even batting an eye. The talk about going to curl up in bed brought that on: he wants her situated and happy, and warm, first.

Rhett kisses her on the head, and begins to open his arms up, to give her space to ease up, one hand lifted for her to use to steady herself. His gaze is critical but he isn't preventing her from doing what she's comfortable with; if she thinks she can stand, he'll help her to do it.

Elaine retrieves her mug, swallowing down the remainder of her tea before setting it aside. “I should be okay for now but I definitely want more later.” The hot liquid certainly went a long way to making her feel better. When he releases her, she scoots a little bit away, moving to rest on her knees before slowly working to get up.

She hadn’t quite anticipated just how sore her legs would be, but she doesn’t entirely lose her balance, she just reaches a hand out towards Rhett so she can steady herself as she gets up. “I wouldn’t advise almost drowning,” she says with an honest laugh. “It hurts.”

"I'm not upset that I can't drown," Rhett agrees, smiling to her laugh, enjoying the levity she's putting into it. "And I'd much rather kiss you when it isn't CPR involved," he adds. When she's on her feet, Rhett gets up as well, getting the bowls to get them moved to the sink. He then returns, collecting some of the pillows, and keeping an eye on her in case she stumbles: he'd rather she stumble towards him, he can catch her and keep her upright.

"When the storm dies down a little more, I'll bring us back in to the docks. If we go now, we'll just get battered against them," Rhett says, as the ship pitches and sways a little. "It's not as bad now, though." Rhett can tell; experience of long years of sailing.

“I am glad that one of us is immune to one potential type of death. Sadly, I cannot save you from anything with my ability but I can certainly sound pretty saying things,” Elaine doesn’t sound as if she hates her ability, more so that the practical applications can be slim at times. “I’m a great party trick, though.”

She’s on her feet at least, balancing herself carefully as she readjusts to how it feels to be standing on ‘solid’ ground. “I do like your non-CPR kisses, mind you. I’ll do my best to make sure that’s not an issue.” She glances around. “I trust your judgement on when to go and when to stay. This is your domain, Aquaman.”

"You're saving me from being lonely; I was very sad, before you," Rhett tells her, chuckling softly. He follows her into the cabin with the bed, pillows in hand, and slides around and past her to lay them back out onto the bed: he'd stolen them before, when she'd needed to rest and he wasn't confident about moving her.

"That may not sound like much, but… it means the world to me." Rhett returns to the bed, climbing onto it, and offers his hands to her, to draw her in. This is probably the first time she's stayed over in his bed; they've rested together plenty of times in hers, but this is his domain, indeed, now. It's a comfy nest; the space is minimal due to the boat's nature, but it isn't cramped feeling.

“I will save you every day, then,” Elaine says. “Every time you wake up and see me I’ll save you all over again.” She ungracefully settles down onto the bed, letting him arrange things to a better position. She makes herself comfortable, moving in to rest against him. “It’s cozy in here,” she murmurs. “I didn’t think it would be, the first time I came on board, I thought it would feel squished.”

She pauses, realizing exactly what she said. “Not that I was looking at this part of your boat the first time I was here.”

"Already plotting to climb into my bed?" Rhett asks, playful, and a little bit surprised. He's flattered, by his voice, though. "You did say I was a catch, as I remember," he says, as he moves to adjust the sheet over them both, sliding down into the blankets. They aren't warm for now, but they will be soon enough, once they've created a nice spot of their body heat.

"So far I've liked being caught by you." Rhett adjusts to kiss her warmly and fully, a deep kiss: expressive of his appreciation, for sure.

“I mean,” Elaine starts, but she’s already blushing. “I can’t say the thought didn’t briefly cross my mind. You’re certainly attractive and you were very friendly. I did look forward to you hanging out again fairly quickly after all. We certainly delayed the inevitable by dancing around things for so long.” She laughs a bit.

“That was fun, though, to be honest. It meant everything was that much important. Every time we looked at each other, every time we stood close…” She glances at him. It’s there that he catches her in the kiss, shifting her whole weight to make sure it’s much easier for it to linger a bit longer when they’re nestled in close quarters.

"I suspected I wasn't good enough for you," Rhett teases her in return. "Just a smuggler and plumber, after all." Rhett tilts his head, brushing his nose against her cheek, then her nose, a smile evolving out of a subtle one into a warmer, fuller smile.

"Yes, it was… electric, wasn't it?" Rhett asks, of them standing close. Feeling the pull and interest there. "Still is. I don't forsee that fading soon," he shakes his head. He kisses her again. "Yes, sparks, mmm," Rhett murmurs.

Elaine grins at him. “Not good enough for me? I know I look pretty shiny on the outside, but I came from humble beginnings and then the life of a nomad who relied on herself for a lot of things. Sheer luck helped me survive. I’m not really the fancy museum curator, the woman getting an advanced degree and living in a place many only dream of stepping foot in.”

She kisses him lightly, the smile still on her lips. “You have been plenty good this entire time. The best, I’d say. You’re more than just some smuggler and a plumber. And I can certainly say that I was pretty much yours from the second I touched your arm to bandage it.” She rubs her nose against his. “Sparks.”

Rhett chuckles into the kiss, shifting to wrap his arms around her, his warmth very present and close. "My turn to help you recover," he whispers to her. "How are you feeling, love?" he asks her, voice quiet, concerned still, seeking. He hasn't held any long kisses, not really, and the kiss that follows is short as well. He doesn't want to do anything that will give her difficulty with breathing, not after her harrowing experience of the earlier evening in the cold water.

He’s concerned over her, his protectiveness present and Elaine appreciates it. At the same time, though, she worries that he’ll just use that to hide behind when things get too real. She’d seen it a bit already. When he speaks, she smiles, scooting in closer against him. “Better,” she replies. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to be sore for at least a day. Not sure how long it takes to recover from this type of thing.”

She imagines that the physical healing doesn’t take as long as the emotional one. “But you don’t have to worry. I’ve been shot before. If I can survive that kind of pain, I can certainly survive this.” She presses a kiss in to his cheek. “How are you feeling? And i don’t mean your shoulder.” He had mentioned his shoulder before, though she wasn’t entirely sure how he had hurt it.

"I'm… relieved you're okay. Quite the scare; I thought I'd lost you," Rhett explains. "Not my favorite feeling: not at all," Rhett says, with a tightness in his voice. Very stressful time for him. "However long it takes to recover is how long it takes," he assures her.

"I'm sorry I put you in a dangerous situation out here. I was… overly confident." A shake of head follows; he's going to be blaming himself, it seems, at least for the time being. Overthinking what he should have done.

Elaine slides her arms in around him and squeezes gently. She buries her face in against his shoulder, then intentionally moves to his neck. “Don’t you dare blame yourself for this, Rhett. If you have to blame yourself for something, the only variable you had control over was when you came back… and even then you couldn’t have known.” She kisses the skin there before pulling back.

“I was careless. I shouldn’t have gone out in the rain and I should have realized just how slippery it was going to be out there. But even with all of that, it was an accident. I could have just slipped and then crawled my way back inside. Neither of us could have expected this to happen. But things do happen sometimes, and we just do our best to try and… weather the storm.”

One hand moves so she can reach up to play with his hair a bit. “What matters is that you were there for me when I needed you. You saved my life.”

"I know it's unreasonable to be with you all the time, but I should have stayed with you, while the storm is going on. I brought you out here into danger, and that part is on me," Rhett answers. "I can't imagine what I would have done if I was just a few minutes later." They're very fortunate, and he recognizes that.

Rhett smiles slightly as she plays with his hair, the touch of fingers there is something he finds calming, even if his worry for her isn't going to be easy to alleviate. He turns his head to just look at her, now: her face and expression, her eyes.

“I was plenty safe in the cabin, I just didn’t stay in the cabin. Theoretically I would have been fine, so you need to stop blaming yourself.” Elaine’s fingertips play in his hair, watching him carefully. “So, like I said, you saved me. You can’t deny that I needed help and you helped me, regardless if you blame yourself for it happening. You still saved me.” Her fingertips move from his hair to his face, brushing there before returning to where they were.

“I was scared too. It might be easier for you to deal with if you saw just how much this shakes me but I’m shit at processing these things in any sort of normal order. I’m great at locking it up for a while until I forget about it and then having it come back to bite me in some inappropriate moment.” There’s a laugh, but it’s kind of a sad one. “I’m still running off of numbness and adrenaline.”

Rhett’s eyebrows drop just a little, a brief guilt there: a different sort of feeling, though. He’d been concerned for her life, but had not addressed her feelings.

Rhett lowers his head, to look into her eyes. “You don’t have to lock up; we can process together. That’s what I’m here for; your partner in this. Will you talk to me?” Rhett asks softly. He kisses each cheek. “It happened. But, You’re safe now, love.”

“I’m not sure I know how… to talk or process, I mean. I’ve just always just kind of dealt with it later. And then later becomes never until somehow something pops up somewhere and you deal with it quietly on the side.” Elaine shakes her head a little. “I want to, but I don’t know how.”

Her hands move, gripping onto one of his arms, as if somehow trying to steady herself. “I was scared, sure. It was scary and I thought I was going to die but it wasn’t really what I thought about. It was just something I was aware of, a sense of panic. But if I died, I’m not the one hurting. It’s just done, I’m just gone, I don’t feel. But you do. You would have had to go on without me and that is what scared me. It’s what still scares me. I don’t want you to have to go through something like that.”

“I’m afraid of death,” Rhett answers, tone thoughtful. “Of the idea of not existing. Of what that is. I’m more afraid of losing us, right now, I think. So I know… what you’re feeling.”

Rhett hugs her, resting his face close to hers. “That we wouldn’t get to live together, have our dreams.” He sighs quietly. “I know each of us would be okay. On our own. If we had to. I believe in us,” he says. “But we’re together, we don’t have to. You’re okay. I’m okay. Our love is okay.”

“I think you’d be okay if something happened to me, but I at least like to think you’d miss me at least a little,” Elaine grins, moving to rest her forehead against hist. “But you’re right. We’re good. I know I have to keep saying it to feel it right now, but I think that’s part of calming down about all of this. We need to remember that we’re alright.”

She boops him on the nose with a fingertip. “Still together, still us.”

"And we dealt with it. You're safe. You kept breathing," Rhett says as she boops him, wrinkling his nose at the touch. "Everything I asked of you, you did," he says gently, with a fond half-smile. "All of that breathing." He watches her eyes, at the very close proximity, their foreheads touching.

"I'd definitely notice; I'd be homeless again," Rhett quietly confirms.

The words are heartbreaking. Elaine abruptly clings to him, arms tight and certainly refuses to let go. “I’m not going to let that happen,” she promises, giving him a very serious look. “I’m never going to let that happen to you again.” It’s just another assurance that she’s not going to let herself die.

She reaches a hand up to touch his cheek. “I want, more than anything, to make sure you always have that home. I mean that. Anything.”

Rhett doesn't trust his voice to not break. His answer has no actual voice to it at all, he just mouths the word to her, entirely silent, trusting that she will read his lips and intent just fine.

The word is 'Okay'. And it comes with a genuine smile of both mouth and eyes. He believes her.

There don’t have to be words. Elaine gets his meaning just fine. She doesn’t verbally reply, though she makes sure he knows she understands by the way she smiles back at him. She doesn’t bother with words now either, instead just resting there against him, watching. She’s not expecting anything from him, she’s not watching him for that, she’s watching him because she’s taking in all the little details.

She wants to remember what it was like in this moment, to be able to recall his expression, the way she felt… she just takes it all in, a half-smile remaining on her lips.

Rhett nods a little in answer. Her smile conveyed a message to him, and he got it. He adjusts his embrace, dropping one hand to maneuver to her lower back, and adjusts his body position to lay snugly against her. It isn't a flirtation, it's a different type of intimacy: of being comfortable, and wanting to be close, without a lustful element. There are other times for that, this is a different vibe.

Rhett simply is just looking back at her, though it's not a stare, or intent, anymore. He's letting himself relax, letting that guarded quality drop, to just be with her in their moment. Alive and together, and healthy.

It’s the kind of intimacy where things feel most vulnerable, and Elaine is willing to accept the vulnerability to have the moment. Her fingertips trace, from his hair, down his cheek to his jawline, along the skin of his arm. It’s just a touch, but somehow it feels like more to her. She breathes slowly, eyes scanning his face, his expression, his eyes.

“Would you laugh at me if I said I’ve never felt like this before?” She murmurs, a fingertip brushing over his lips for a brief moment. “This right here. Like this.”

"Only if you burst into song to convey it," Rhett says softly, his joke warming his tone, and some brief joy flowing into his eyes. "Then I might laugh.. But it would be with you, not at you." Rhett purses his lips to kiss her fingers, to let her touch them in that position, before he relaxes them again.

He's enjoying her examination of his face. There are a few minor scars here and there, though only visible at this distance. It's a lot like the rest of him: the scars only show up on closer look. "How do you feel?" Rhett asks.

“I don’t know if I’d be great at making up a song to convey it,” Elaine at least seems amused by this idea, looking back at him. “And I’m certainly not much of a princess, so I don’t think I’ve got a cause to sing either.” She leans in, kissing the tip of his nose. “As far as how I feel, are we talking about if I’m feeling alright because of what happened or are you asking me to elaborate on this?”

The gesture she gives indicates more of the moment and less of the being on the boat following a traumatic event.

"You mentioned you'd never felt this way," Rhett says, with a quick wink he knows she'll fully catch, with their gazes so close and linked. The kiss to his nose gets a smile: free and easy, not reserved or withheld. He's in a moment of being open.


"If it's a good feeling, I hope to cause it a lot." A return kiss to her nose happens. He's letting her off the hook about explaining it, though, there's not a sense of waiting in his voice. "I wondered if it was the same as what I feel. I think.. It is."

“It’s good, I promise.” Elaine says, smiling broadly. She seems content that there’s nothing really between them other than a small amount of space, physically and emotionally for that matter. “But I only meant that this feels…” She seems to be at a loss for words. “It feels…”

Rhett interrupts by kissing her directly on the lips. It's soft at first, but then shifts into a deeper kiss. He's cautious with it: he doesn't want to make her breathing any more difficult, but he did feel the urge, to express it in a loving, full kiss.

That he understands, that words aren't needed. He breaks the kiss after a little. "I know," is what Rhett whispers.

“Yeah, that…” Elaine murmurs. His response was certainly the sentiment she was trying to get across. “Lots of that.” She keeps the closeness, not seeming to want any distance even when they weren’t kissing. “I’m getting bad with the whole overthinking and talking thing again, aren’t I?” She rubs her nose against his, then lets her eyes drift shut for a moment.

“I talk too much and you don’t talk as much. We’re certainly a pair, mm?” The talking’s more like a soft murmur, nothing meant to be thought provoking, just a soft line of words to indicate she’s still there.

"I love it about you. I like to hear your thoughts," Rhett tells her. His hand on her side brushes against the soft oversized shirt there, a presence where he's embracing her. "I love that you're concerned. That you care deeply." He smiles at her, then settles his forehead to hers, also closing his eyes, taking her cue to just rest. The ship around them moves, pitching a little, but they are cozy and safe.

“You really like my rambling?” Elaine asks, peeking her eyes open again so she can look at him for just a brief moment. She’s smiling. Her eyes gently shut again. Even as the ship moves a little, she creeps in closer towards him despite the fact it’s hard to move much. Maybe a reflex at this point. “As long as it isn’t annoying. I can stop it if it bothers you.” Her arm moves to rest around him, letting out a slow breath.

“But I’ll keep doing it if it makes you smile, even a little.”

"I do like it. Your rambling," Rhett says, with a kiss. "Your voice." Another kiss. "Your rambling about if you're rambling." Rhett adds one more kiss to the mix, trying not to smile, but failing. His eyes remain closed, at least for the moment.

"You are neither annoying nor bothering, honey," Rhett assures her. "I'm glad you feel like you can talk to me. I want that. Us being open, honest, and real. It makes all of this feel… real."

Her own eyes stay shut, just content to know he’s there, even when she’s not looking. It’s its own form of intimacy. “It’s pretty real, I’d say. Hard to get more real than this. But I know how it might not feel real sometimes. Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m dreaming it up or that I don’t deserve this somehow. But it’s real.”

Elaine leans in to kiss him lightly. “I just hope you feel as if you can be open and honest and tell me anything.”

"I hope so, too, Elaine," Rhett says, after her light kiss. "Anything you want to know, just ask it of me," Rhett offers. He draws a hand from around her to briefly adjust the blankets up and over them, tucking in part of the warm blanket around her shoulder to be sure he's warming it, with a slow passage of palm over the fabric of the oversized gray shirt.

"And I'm going to prove, over the years, how much I appreciate that you've chosen me. That you trust me."

“I’ve babbled about everything in my life, you should be sick of my stories, so I’ll have to poke and prod you for more of yours. I liked hearing about your family,” Elaine murmurs, peeking open her eyes to just look at him again. It’s a sight she enjoys more and more every time. She appreciates him just being there.

“I like the idea of you proving it, although it’s not necessary. I believe you when you say it.”

"Maybe not right now," Rhett teases her softly. "Right now, I'd like to fall asleep with you in my arms," he says, voice dropping low, tender. "I like knowing you're safe… and mine," Rhett adds. He nuzzles his lips against her eyebrow, smiles, and then relaxes, resting his head close to hers, and breathing evenly.

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