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Fic: Return to Ascension Part 1 of 2

A sequel to The Good with the Bad

Author: clonesgirl
Fandom: The Sinking of the Laconia
Rating: NC-17 for sex and a bit of violence
Pairing: hartenstein/mortimer
Timeline: 1942 A/U
Word count this section: 2,560
Warnings: Historic and fictional characters, some violence
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Characters borrowed from BBC strictly for playing with, not profit. No offence intended. This is purely a work of fiction.
Summary: Hartenstein blames himself when Titanic hits a mine
Beta: None. If you find goofs please let me know.
A/N: This is a sequel to "The Good with the Bad"

The sea was sparkling, the sky was blue with only a few wispy clouds and once more U-156 was in the South Atlantic escorting the liner Titanic. Both vessels were some fifty miles east of Ascension Island. They had rescued crew and passengers from three vessels recently transitioned to the Fourth Realm. All had been taken aboard Titanic without incident. In the Third Realm the vessels had been part of a convoy sunk by a German U-boat. However, it appeared the U-boat had survived for there was no sign of one on either vessel's radar. The three wrecked vessels would be retrieved at a later date and U-156 and Titanic were now headed northward on the voyage home - an uneventful one, Captain Werner Hartenstein hoped.

That night, as the night watch took over, he remained on deck for some time, as did his first officer, Thomas Mortimer. They had looked at one another, both feeling an itch they couldn't seem to scratch as they stood near the bow of the boat. It was a perfectly clear night, a three-quarter moon riding high in the eastern sky illuminating the vastness of the Atlantic. To stern, Titanic's lights also lit up the night, the liner travelling at top speed as she kept up with them.

All was perfectly calm as Hartenstein paced up and down the forward deck, Mortimer standing near the conning tower staring out to sea, both men searching for they knew not what. Hartenstein knew full well that if anything turned up on the radar he would be notified immediately, but that didn't ease the prickle at the back of his neck. He kept telling himself that there was no reason to think anything untoward would happen, but it didn't help.

It was after midnight now and both men were still on deck when Mortimer, looking to starboard, thought he saw something in the water; something that passed into their shadow as they glided by.

"Captain!" Hartenstein immediately saw his first officer looking to starboard. "There!" Mortimer pointed to the object just gone by. "And there's another one!"

"Mines! Mein Gott! Hard to port!" he shouted to the conning tower as the Officer of the Watch sounded the boat's horn and Hartenstein shouted to keep sounding it and contact Titanic.

"Watch for more!" he shouted to Mortimer as he turned frantically to stern to see if Titanic was following them yet as the U-boat turned sharply to port, its deck tilting somewhat in the process.

As everyone scanned the waters anxiously for more mines Hartenstein counted the seconds as he watched the great ship in their wake. Finally! he thought. Yes, she was turning, but so slowly...

What followed was a bright flash and the sickening noise of a loud explosion. Simultaneously came the sounds of splintering, tearing metal as her hull was ripped apart on her starboard side close to the stern. They could now hear the sounds of alarms on board.

Almost a mile away from where she had struck the mine Titanic finally came to a stop, her escort now alongside her as Hartenstein, Mortimer and several crew members boarded her. They had already received radio reports of her condition, but even knowing what to expect had not prepared them for the reality. Warnings had been sounded and her automatic doors had been closed to isolate the water rushing into her hull at the waterline. Flooding from the jagged hole had partially submerged her engine room, however, with the watertight doors shut it was now being successfully pumped out and her boilers could still make steam. Fortunately her medical facilities were unaffected and injured crew were being conveyed there. Her passengers, most asleep in their cabins, were uninjured.

Andrews conveyed a meeting of all officers and a worried Hartenstein was reassured that the huge ship was in no danger of sinking. Yes, there was flooding but the pumps were working and the redesigned multiple watertight doors and compartments had saved her.

"She'll make it home, Captain, though at reduced speed," Andrews assured him.

"I'd recommend one quarter speed," the chief engineer added.

"One quarter it'll be," Andrews decided before turning once more to Hartenstein.

"You think a U-boat did this?"

"I've no doubt, but we've seen none on the radar, so keep a sharp lookout. Why a U-boat would deploy mines here in the open ocean I have no idea. I mean the sea bottom is too deep for them and they could float away for hundreds of miles. I can only conclude that it was done recently, perhaps to block the harbour at Ascension and the mines, because they were not anchored, drifted this far with the prevailing current. Either that or there is a U-boat nearby which we have been unable to detect and it targeted a British liner but only had mines left in its arsenal."

"Then there's got to be a U-boat from the Third somewhere around here then," Andrews muttered.

They could draw no conclusions for the time being except for being on the alert. After the meeting broke up the two U-boat officers stayed behind with Andrews.

"Captain, I offer my abject apologies," Hartenstein began. "My failure to protect Titanic is a disgrace and..."

Andrews threw an arm around him. "Now, now, my friend, none of that. Titanic can take her chances. The mines are too damn small to show up on radar so neither one of us saw them coming. There was nothing you could have done."

"That is not acceptable and I..."

"Stop worrying, my friend. All will be well. It takes more than a mine to sink Titanic. We'll make it back safely you'll see. And don't worry about what the Admiralty is going to say. They can rant all they want and I'm sure they'll bring up the mothballs again. The fact remains none of the passengers or their families were hurt and the injured crew are being well taken care of. Repairs are under way and we're all safe, if not quite sound. So we'll soon be shipshape once more. We might look a little drunk with the list but it's only four degrees. On a vessel this size that's nothing, so don't concern yourself."

Hartenstein was looking at Mortimer who was frowning and looking worried. Andrews, too, was now looking at him.

Mortimer now belatedly realized this.

"Sorry, sirs, it's just..." He sighed in frustration.

"Well spit it out, man," Andrews encouraged.

"I keep wondering why we haven't been able to spot a U-boat on the radar. Yes, I know, maybe he's not around here any more, but I keep wondering. Since he's from the Third he probably believes there's an American base on Ascension. If he had little ammunition, was out of torpedoes and his instruments were damaged so that he thinks the sea bottom is shallower than it is around the island, he would have laid the mines and gone somewhere close by to hide, perhaps waiting for an American vessel to strike them and then attack in the ensuing chaos. I keep thinking of that inlet where we successfully hid."

Andrews was most interested. "You have been to Ascension before?"

Hartenstein appeared thoughtful. "Yes, Captain. In the Third Realm I conducted a raid there. It's more than possible that a U-boat hiding out in a small inlet would not show up on our radar." He sighed and paced up and down before turning to Andrews. "What Mortimer says is plausible." He smiled at Mortimer. "In fact his thoughts echo my own. However, if we are to hunt this U-boat, then we would have to abandon you, Captain."

"Oh, for heavens sake, don't worry about Titanic. We'll make it home in one piece. You do what you have to do, my friend, and right now it seems that's hunting down a U-boat from the Third before it does any more damage."

Hartenstein made up his mind. "Very well. However, I will not abandon you until we find another U-boat to escort you back to Homeport. No protests, my friend. You will only be able to manage one quarter speed so I insist you have an escort. I will radio for one now."

Andrews knew better than to protest and, truth be told, he was grateful for the offer of another escort. One never knew what one might come across these days with the carnage taking place in the Third.

"One more thing before you go. Who spotted the mines?"

Hartenstein smiled. "It was Mortimer."

"I only wish I could have spotted them sooner, sir," Mortimer added.

"Then I thank you for your keen eye," Andrews said sincerely. "Thanks to you we were able to turn in time to miss the second one. You were up late," he remarked. "A case of insomnia?"

"Something like that," Mortimer replied, smiling a little. "We were both up late."

"So you both had a case of insomnia," Andrews smiled at both men, nodding to himself. "Then I can only thank your instincts and your care. You're both invaluable, to me and to Titanic."

He embraced both of them, wishing them God speed.

After assisting Titanic's crew with the repairs crew members from the U-boat also returned to their vessel having ascertained that there was nothing more to be done for now. The ship's pumps were working well, her many watertight compartments and reinforced sides had saved most of her lower decks from the in-rushing water though it was obvious to all that she would need dry-docking for extensive repairs to her hull.

The Admiralty, of course, were not happy. The position of the mines had been noted and all shipping in the area warned. They only had one vessel which had been designated a mine hunter but she would be several days in getting there. The nearest Admiralty U-boat was some six hours away and would not arrive until mid morning. In the meantime U-156 stayed close to the giant liner, both vessels keeping a close watch for any unknown U-boats in the area.

When the two U-boat officers finally took to their bed it was closer to dawn than midnight. The moon had long set, the sky had clouded over and a low mist had formed on the water.

Both were quiet for a while as they lay there, finally able to relax.

It was Hartenstein broke the silence, turning to his somewhat melancholy companion.

"Your instincts are always right, meine liebe."

"But not in time to prevent Titanic hitting a mine."

"You could not have known. Besides, Andrews doesn't blame us and we must not blame ourselves. We did the best we could in the circumstances and thanks to your good instincts we were able to save the ship from hitting the second mine. That could have been far worse. Let us not forget, we, too, might have hit the mines and been badly damaged."

"I suppose so."

Hartenstein smiled at him, his head resting on his elbow. "Komm, meine liebe. Give me a kiss."

Mortimer appeared thoughtful, blue eyes wandering all over the features of the man he loved with every fibre of his being. "I'll give you a kiss. I'll give you more than one kiss. I'll give you several kisses. I'll give you all the kisses you could ever want, and then I'll kiss you some more." With one hand he reached up to draw his lover down to him to giver him several tender kisses that soon ignited their senses and became far more.

As he kissed and licked his way down his German lover's neck, soft murmurs drifted to his avid ears. "Mmm... Meine liebe, meine liebe, what would I do without you." And as the insistent mouth travelled down him to suckle tender nipples, leaving them standing pertly, he heard, "Look what you do to me."

"And I love to do everything to you, and with you, and for you," Mortimer whispered, tonguing a belly button and watching a shiver come over the taut flesh as his lover touched his own nipples, fondling them. He loved to watch his captain do that and sometimes, as now, he would push the eager fingers away and go back to sucking them. "You love that," he whispered, going from one to the other. "You always love that."

"Only you, my British love. Only you know me so well. Only you make me feel so much. Only you light a fire in me. Mein Gott," he moaned, parting his legs as his lover slid much further down to lick gently at his balls and up the length of his erection before returning to lap at the swollen protrusions as though they were a sweet treat before dipping lower.

Mortimer's own excitement was reaching a fever pitch just from hearing his lover's deep breaths and throaty moans. He grabbed a pillow and shoved it under Hartenstein's hips as the latter managed to raise himself half in delirium.

Oil and a hot, eager tongue caused Hartenstein to shiver in excitement. "Yesss," he hissed. "Gott, yesss! Yes, yes!" And then he felt it. "Yes, there, my love! There, there!" he groaned as the eagerly anticipated visitor entered and he pushed his hips higher in welcome. "Come! Come into me, meine liebe. Don't keep me waiting!" he pleaded. "You know how I love it when you fuck me."

"Shh. Calm yourself, gorgeous German." Mortimer slid deeper, feeling the eager flesh gripping him. "There." Deeper still. "There, my love." A bit deeper. "There, my strong and lovely German. How is that? Feel good?"

"Wonderbar, my love. Wonderbar..."

Mortimer grinned. "Mmm, but I love to collaborate with my German captain and fuck him silly." He pushed a little deeper, Hartenstein meeting him.

"God, yes. We will always collaborate, my British love."

"Yes, always." He was moving more now but still slowly and deliberately. "I never want to hold back with you. I never want to keep myself from you."

"And you never will, my love. Never. We will always share..." Hartenstein grunted with pleasure as his lover pushed deeper and harder, "...as we are now."

"And I will always... be in your heart."

Words turned to feverish grunts and groans until Mortimer gasped, "With me - oh! Yesss!"

As Hartenstein felt his lover's ecstasy he threw his head back wanting to shout his own pleasure but always remembering to be quiet for the bulkheads were thin on a U-boat and sound travelled far on a small vessel. Instead he would find himself whimpering in his delirium as, heart pounding, he, too, came deliciously over his own belly and ribs.

Afterwards, Mortimer would look at him lovingly and push his damp hair back from his forehead while loving hands stroked him affectionately. In silence they would clean up before settling down for the night. On this night Hartenstein checked his watch and shook his head. As Mortimer looked at him questioningly he showed it to him - almost five in the morning. This merely elicited a shrug from his lover.

"We are sleeping late; captain's privilege. We will have three hours."

Mortimer looked relieved. "Thank God for that!"

"Besides," Hartenstein looked at Mortimer, a somewhat devious smile on his face as he lay down once more, "it was worth it."

Mortimer gathered his lover close. "More than worth it."