All it had taken was a phone call. Nick was at his wit's end, exhausted and frustrated from dealing with his family and a particularly gruesome case at work. He'd called Kelly without even thinking about it, and twelve hours later, here Kelly was, standing on the end of the dock.
"So, where we going?" His smile was easy and playful as he tossed a bag up onto the deck before climbing up himself.
"Kels, I can't just up and leave work," Nick sighed, running a hand through his hair. The idea was more than tempting, but he couldn't just take a weekend off without advance warning.
"Nicko, when was the last time you looked at a calendar?"
Nick huffed and cocked his head at Kelly, waiting for him to elaborate.
"It's Thanksgiving weekend. You can take a few days off. And if your parents call, you have an excuse to skip dinner." Kelly grinned, shoving his hands in his pockets and heading for the pilot-house to warm up. Nick followed him. He had no heart to argue. As much as he loved his job, a weekend with a friend sounded like exactly what he needed right now. He'd have to make it up to his sisters later, but getting away would be worth the hassle.
Kelly made himself at home, flopping out on one of the benches, and looked up expectantly at Nick.
"Where to, Captain?"
Nick sighed and smiled at Kelly. "They're predicting storms, and I do need to be back at work on Tuesday, so we can't go far. Any ideas?"
"Nantucket!" Kelly looked gleeful. Nick blinked slowly.
"Nantucket? What's in Nantucket?"
Kelly grinned again and shrugged. Nick found himself smiling too - Kelly's mood was infectious. "It sounds funny."
"That's a terrible reason to pick a weekend destination."
"Fine," Kelly rolled his eyes playfully. "It's close, it's full of history-y things. Also, it sounds funny."
Nick sighed and laughed softly. Kelly'd already convinced him. "Fine. Just..." He glared at Kelly and pointed. "One dirty limerick and I'm throwing you overboard."
Roughly an hour later, they found themselves out on open water and Nick had to admit that it was like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Kelly was quiet, curled up on one of the benches that surrounded the pilot-house, staring out the window with his hands wrapped around a mug of tea. Every so often Nick would glance over at him, and he found himself smiling. Something about Kelly's quiet companionship always made him feel better.
He cast his eyes back to the water and let out a low curse. The storm front that the weather charts had been showing as several hours off were looming ahead of them, dark and forbidding.
"What's wrong?" Kelly looked up from his mug and cocked his head at Nick.
"That storm, it's picked up. There's no way we're going to miss it." He scanned the radio and his maps quickly, and made the decision to find shelter at one of the closest little islands. They were all rocky and mostly uninhabited, but they'd offer some small refuge, at least.
Kelly jumped down the stairs and ran off to start closing up against the storm without Nick even having to ask him to. Nick chewed on his lip as he changed course slightly.
Within twenty minutes, they'd dropped anchor on the far side of one of the small islands, the rocky outcropping hopefully enough to protect them from the snow squalls and buffeting winds heading in their direction. With a groan, Nick closed up the pilot-house and headed down into the salon.
Kelly had already boarded up all the windows and brought out the portable lanterns in case they had to conserve energy later. Nick lowered himself heavily onto the built-in sofa and frowned.
"Sorry, Kels, I'm sure this isn't what you had in mind."
Kelly was, as always, easy-going. He shrugged and grinned, bending down to get something out from the built-in cabinet below him. He sat up, a triumphant look on his face as he showed off a battered old Monopoly box.
Nick burst out laughing. "Where the hell did you find that?" He was certain it hadn't been there before.
"Brought it with me, in case we got bored."
"What are you, eight?" Nick rolled his eyes, but he was still laughing as Kelly set the board up on the table between them.
Kelly was unrepentant. "It's either that or strip poker."
At the suggestion, something dark reared its head deep inside of Nick. He tamped down the mental pictures that Kelly's joking suggestion had flooded his head with and tried to laugh it off. Kelly narrowed his eyes, studying Nick seriously, as if he could read Nick's thoughts. Nick just shook his head.
"Fine, but I get to be the battleship," Nick muttered, snatching the piece up.
They played in relative peace for a while as the storm raged around them, battering the sides of the boat and making Nick cringe. At one point Kelly got up and shuffled into the galley, coming back with two six-packs of Harpoon and a pie. Kelly was just full of surprises today.
"Okay, I'll give you the Monopoly board, but I am fuckin' certain I did not have any pie on board when we cast off."
Kelly grinned as he built another hotel on Park Place. "It's Thanksgiving, Lucky. Can't have Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie."
Nick laughed again, cracking open a beer. He gestured at Kelly with the beer in hand. "Fine, but if you smuggled a turkey on board I am done with you."
Kelly giggled quietly, and they went back to half-heartedly playing and listening to the storm.
At some point the game had stopped mattering. They were still playing, technically, but Kelly had started collecting rent in beer instead of paper money, and Nick was stretched out along one length of the built-in sofa that ran around the edge of the salon. Kelly flopped over onto the other edge. His cheeks were ruddy and his eyes sparkled with mischief as he rested his head on Nick's stomach.
Without thinking, Nick ran his free hand through Kelly's hair. Kelly leaned into the contact like a big cat, and Nick laughed.
"What're you grateful for, Lucky?" There was an almost childlike innocence in Kelly's voice that nearly broke Nick's heart. At this point in his life, he didn't have much to be grateful for, so he chewed on his lip while he thought of an answer.
"I'm grateful for my boat. I'm grateful that I have a job I love, and that I'm fucking good at. I'm grateful I still have all my limbs, even if my leg's a bit rusty. I'm..." he paused, hand still carding idly through Kelly's hair. "I'm grateful I have friends. You."
Kelly chuckled quietly. "Me too." He sat up just enough to tip his beer towards Nick, and Nick tapped the neck of his bottle against Kelly's before taking another swig.
A silence settled over them, quiet and comforting. It took Nick a few minutes to realise that they couldn't hear the storm, either. Kelly half sat up, propping himself up on his elbows.
"Is it over?"
Nick stood, stretching as he got up. Kelly followed him as they headed to the pilot-house. The sky outside was a dark, clear navy blue, glittering with stars. There wasn't a cloud to be seen, and no evidence of the raging storm that had stranded them.
Nick turned to Kelly, who was staring off into the distance.
"Looks like we're good. We can..." He paused. "We should get going, if we're going to make it to Nantucket."
Kelly shuffled over, leaning against Nick's back and digging his chin into Nick's shoulder. Without thinking, Nick reached around behind him and patted Kelly's hip.
"There's no reason we have to go, you know. We could just stay here for the weekend. Nobody's ever going to find us, we can just get hammered and play more board games," Kelly said quietly.
Warmth flooded through Nick, and he managed to convince himself it was just because of the way Kelly was draped over his back.
"Yeah, there's no reason we can't just stay here."