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By Keren

Sinbad tossed and turned in his hammock. He was exhausted and in desparate need of a good night's rest - not surprising considering the events of the last few days.

The Nomad and her crew had barely survived the ferocious storm that had suddenly swept up and battered them for 3 straight days. Then, there had been the insanity and headaches of finding a port to make repairs so their cargo could be delivered. Everyone had been on edge and all their tempers had been frayed. Even the normally unflappable Firouz had been sorely tested. On this, their first calm night in almost a week, sleep should have come easily to Sinbad. But his mind was still alert and tension filled every inch of him.

In the hammock near him, he could hear Doubar's snores rise in volume, abate, then rise again, even louder. He grinned in the darkness and sighed. Sleep was definitely going to be a problem tonight. He rose, quickly dressed, and quietly left the cabin. Maybe some fresh sea air would help him relax.

Along the way, he paused and softly knocked on Bryn's door. Getting no response, he hoped she was sleeping peacefully and moved down the passageway to Firouz and Rongar's cabin. He peeked in and was met with silence, broken by an occasional grunt from a dreaming Firouz. Smiling, Sinbad closed the door and headed above. At least his friends and crew were getting some much needed sleep.

Or almost all of them. As he looked around the deck of his beloved ship, he spotted Bryn sitting and leaning against some of the cargo boxes near the bow. She looked up at him as he walked over to her.

"Couldn't sleep, either?" he asked gently as he sat down beside her.

"No.... guess it's all the tension from the past few days," she replied with a small half grin.

Sinbad nodded in sympathy. They sat side by side in silence for a few moments, enjoying the calm evening and light sea breeze. Above them, the heavens were putting on a beautiful show with the stars sparkling brightly against a velvet darkness.

"Well," he whispered, a hint of mischief in his voice, "I could always sing you a lullaby or two....."

His words had the desired effect for laughter bubbled out and a smile brightened her face. The sight brought a smile to his own face. And, she noticed, a thoughtful look to his eyes.

"What?" she asked, laughter still in her voice.

Still smiling, he chuckled. "Nothing.... just..." he paused. Then he turned to look out at the sea, unsure if he should say what he had been thinking. He looked back at her when he felt her soft hand on his arm.

"Come on, Sinbad, What is it?," she softly asked. "We've always been able to talk - about anything."

He nodded as he reached out and gently brushed a stray strand of her hair back from her face. "I just realized, it's been awhile since you last smiled. And I've missed seeing it," he answered quietly.

Bryn looked at Sinbad in surprise, then smiled a little. Now it was her turn to look away to the sea. "I missed your smiles, too." Her words were so soft he almost missed them. She turned back to him when she felt his hand upon hers. They smiled at each other as they held hands and leaned back against the crates.

Sinbad knew there was something growing between them - something stronger than friendship. It felt good - right. Different and stronger from what he had felt with Maeve. With her, it had been a constant battle of words and wills. He had always felt a barrier between them - friends, but not quite trusted. Secrets had existed. With Bryn, there were no battles. No war of words. Only simple, honest friendship. A friendship based on trust and honesty. A friendship that had grown stronger with each passing day.

A sudden chuckle from Bryn broke his thoughts and he looked over at her. She smiled as she spoke. "I was just remembering what Doubar did to that seadog who tried to "borrow" the long-boat."

Sinbad grinned and joined in her laughter. "He was still trying to figure a way out of that mud-hole Doubar threw him into when we left."

As the two talked and quietly laughed, they both felt the last of the tension ebb away. Sinbad saw Bryn try to stifle a yawn.

"Getting tired?" he asked, also beginning to feel an urge to yawn.

She nodded and grinned. "Yeah. It felt good to laugh again" Sinbad nodded as Bryn asked, "Whatever happened with that sea captain's daughter - the one who wouldn't leave Firouz alone?"

Sinbad laughed and started telling her about what happened. He hadn't gotten very far when he felt her head rest on his shoulder. Looking down, he smiled gently. Bryn had fallen asleep, a smile on her lips. He shifted a little, thinking he'd carry her down to her cabin and let her sleep in her hammock. But she looked so peaceful, he didn't want to disturb her. And, he had to admit, it felt good having her rest against him - trusting him to look out for her if anything should happen.

A sudden cool breeze hit them and Bryn shivered. Still asleep, she shifted closer to him, seeking the comfort of his warmth. He gently wrapped her in his arms, protecting her from the breeze, as her head came to rest on his chest. He leaned down and kissed the top of her head.

"Good night, Bryn," he whispered and leaned back against the crates. Sleepily, he wondered what her reaction would be if she awoke and discovered them sleeping like this, her enveloped in his arms, together. He didn't wonder for too long, though, as sleep finally overcame him as well.

The stars in the heavens above twinkled, silently watching over them both, as the waves gently rocked the Nomad. And for the first time in almost a week, her captain slept with a peaceful smile on his handsome face.

End =)