By Sage Harper
His earliest memory is of being eighteen months old.
Sitting, with water up to his chest, on the last wide step down into the children’s pool.
His mother must have turned away for only a split second, as a brightly coloured ball floated past. He remembered reaching for it.
Next thing he was face down, laid on the bottom of the pool; feeling oddly peaceful there.
Then being scooped up, to rest, safe, in his mother’s arms.
“Oh Bradley, are you okay?” his mother said, her voice still edged with panic.
He’d giggled, clamouring to get back in the water.
The happiest times of his life were spent with her, beside the ocean.
Elsa – she wasn’t conventionally beautiful. Or conventionally anything really.
That’s what made her all the more perfect to him. Interesting. A rare pearl of a girl.
They had strolled along the shore, on the way back to Marineville from their favourite restaurant.
He’d dropped down on one knee in the sand.
Asked her to be his wife, run away with him, sail the seven seas.
She laughed, agreed it sounded like fun.
They made love as the waves clapped against the shore.
Greatest day of his life.
Rain, so much rain.
He listened to it, drumming against the windows outside the office.
The sea, which had given shape and direction to his life, had turned on him, stolen everything he held dear.
Elsa was gone, a diving accident.
His submarine had crashed, now he was stuck behind a desk until his back injury healed.
He often wished the sea had taken him too.
Everything seemed hopeless. Numb.
Then he would feel the rain on his face.
Elsa had loved the walk in the rain.
For a moment it was like she was with him again.
They wondered sometimes, how he’d ended up here.
On Cloudbase, forty thousand feet above sea level.
He’d thought it would be a fresh start.
They teased him about it, his colleagues, who would never understand, about him being a fish out of water.
But they all were, in their own way, perhaps that’s why he belonged.
At times he would get a little homesick; a sense of wanderlust, cabin fever, a longing for the ocean.
Then he would go down to the pool. Dive in.
And it would feel like he’d never been away.
Slowly, surely, he healed.
They went down to the shoreline every day.
“Those waves are really big,” she said. Five years old, the image of her mother, with a giddy mix of fear and delight.
“They have even bigger ones in Hawaii,” he told her. “Some of them are even bigger than houses.”
She stared up at him, wide eyed, trying to imagine such things.
“But it’s all right; we’re a long way away from there. These waves won’t hurt you.”
She nodded, but took his hand anyway.
They jumped up as the Mediterranean waves crashed over their legs, laughing.
He had come home.
This story was originally written for my fanfic100 challenge using the prompt ‘water’ (really how could you not write about Grey for that?); but as it has five parts with the occurring motif I thought it suited this challenge equally well.
Grey-centric stories are a bit thin on the ground; which is a shame as he is an interesting character. That said there is still plenty of inspiration to be had, and I have made several references to other fanfics and Grey’s official biography...
1) Entirely my own creation: The image of happy baby Grey was too cute to pass up; but considering how intense his devotion is to swimming a love of water must have manifested early on.
2) A reference to Grey’s time in Marineville: Elsa Foley Barnes (Grey’s late wife) was originally created by Sue Stanhope, and features in ‘So beautifully framed’, which is one of my favourite stories. I like the idea that beneath that cool exterior Grey is a bit of a hopeless romantic.
3) Another reference to ‘So beautifully framed’, along with ‘A question of trust’ and Grey’s official biography, which states he had to take a desk job as the result of suffering a back injury whilst in action.
4) My own theory, of sorts, as to what was behind Grey’s personal reasons for accepting to assignment to Cloudbase.
5) This was inspired by ‘Valediction’, by Marion Woods. As that story makes reference to Grey & Destiny having a daughter together and living in France. I say inspired, because I haven’t personally settled on a vision of Grey’s future. So I’ve deliberately left the little girl’s identity ambiguous, and she could just as easily be a niece or Goddaughter on holiday. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Thanks to Chris for proofreading, hosting, and all that other great things she does.