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The Wheel Slowly Turns

Guest AngelRose

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Story Title: The Wheel Slowly Turns

Type of story: long fic

Main Characters: Ric + Whole Cast

BTTB rating: A

Genre: Romance

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: None

Summary: What happens after the chopper crash. (Especially focusing on Ric and Mattie.)

Sequel to 'The Secrets Your Heart Tells You'

(With thanks to SkyKat for her fabulous on-going beta-reading)

The Wheel Slowly Turns

One of the very worst things about being in hospital is that it gives you too much to think, too much time to feel. You have too much time to feel not just physical pain but also doubt, fear, anger and grief. Grief for what could or should have been; anger at being trapped in some stupid, sterile bed when there are other, much more important things to be done; fear of the future and how your life might change now and doubts of the past. Did what happened really happen, or is your mind playing tricks on you out of pain and sheer boredom?

Matilda Hunter was learning all of that hard and fast. As she lay in her hospital bed, both she and her Mum were frantic not only about her missing brother and sister but also about her sister-in-law Tasha and the unborn baby which Tasha was fighting so hard to keep well just a few doors away. That was where her Mum was now, with Tasha. In all honesty, Mattie had pretended to fall into a dose so that Beth would go. It seemed to Mattie as though half of Summer Bay was in Northern Districts General and it was a little overwhelming at times.

Mattie’s shoulder throbbed yet again as she moved and she bit back a sob; Damn Zoë McCalister; damn her for setting that fire and damn her for being dead so that Mattie had no-one to scream at, no-one to blame.

Part of her wanted to blame Peter Baker for not recapturing Zoë but Peter was dead and she wouldn’t sink that low. Maybe she could blame Jack, but Jack was suffering more than she would ever be thanks to this mess and anyway he only been following orders. So if she couldn’t blame anyone, what COULD she do?!

Fighting the urge to throw the TV remote across the room, Mattie pounded her good fist on the bedclothes. Her siblings were God alone knew where fighting for their lives and all she could do was lie here in bed, cry futile tears and be dressed and undressed like some broken, half-forgot doll. Again she asked herself what she could do. Only one answer came to mind.

She had to fight back!

And suddenly she knew EXACTLY where to start!

New resolve flooding through her she used her buzzer to call a nurse.



Sally sat on the sofa and played with her daughter, smiling as she did so; at least someone in the Bay was oblivious to all the stress and worry around here. Even now though little Pippa seemed to sense things; she had her Daddy’s caring soul. Sally sighed, Flynn would have been so proud of the baby, so proud of all their children. True, only Pippa was conventionally ‘his’, but she could see his legacy in all of them; each carried it on in a different way.

Cassie, she was the thinker of the three, often to be found mulling things over in a quiet spot on the beach, ready to be guided home with an arm around the shoulder or an affectionate text message on her mobile. Ric, well to the outside world he seemed like the hothead of the bunch (and to be fair he could be like that at times), but Sal got to see another side too; the side that had been brave yet tender-hearted enough to run straight to Mattie as soon as he got her call, putting aside his own fears to help a friend; the side that liked nothing better than to read to his kid sister (despite grumbling about it first). As for the baby, time would tell, but Sally suspected that Pippa would be the academic of the trio; she adored being read to and loved nothing better than to try and scribble all over work her Mummy was meant to be marking! Yes, Sally could still see Flynn in each of the children’s eyes and no-one would ever know how grateful she was for that.

Then yesterday when Ric had returned from helping Mattie at the hospital, Pippa had gone straight to her big brother’s side and screamed at the top of her lungs if anyone else had tried to take her. Eventually when sleep had claimed her exhausted little body, Sally had laid her in her crib and covered her in one of Flynn’s shirts. That seemingly simple task had given her an idea and she’d done another little job before going back downstairs.

As for Ric, he’d bottled things up as usual; unaware that Sally could see the pain and worry as plain as day in his eyes. He had eaten but only to encourage the baby and Mr. Stewart to do the same.

Sally had realised just how exhausted Ric and Cassie were when neither of them objected to not being allowed back to the hospital that evening, Mr Stewart had gone straight back to the Surf Club, but Cassie had simply run herself a bath and Ric had slumped on the sofa with little Pippa snuggled into his side.



Ric pretended to watch TV but really his mind was all over the place; was Martha ok; where was she? Was she hurt? (His mind wouldn’t allow him to think anything worse.) His Granddad was frantic and clearly pushing himself too hard, and as for Cassie and Macca, that just made him angry! How DARE that lousy drop-kick hurt one of his sisters! Macca was lucky that Sally had pleaded with Ric not to do anything dumb; Sally was the only person in the world he would have listened to on that!

Then, quite suddenly, something struck him; WHEN had he started seeing Cass as more his sister than anything else?! The thought shook him to the core. Pushing the suddenly uncomfortable fact that he and Cassie had slept together in the past to the back of his mind to be dealt with in calmer times, he looked back over the day.



Mattie had been SO brave, not only coping with the pain of her injuries but also the fact that both her brother and sister were missing. Ric marvelled at Mattie’s guts, but one thing still puzzled him; why had he called for him when her boyfriend Luc had been just down the hall? Ok, so Luc had been busy looking after his brother Jack, but surely Lucas should have been Matilda’s first instinct after her Mum? It wasn’t that Ric minded Mattie sending for him, it was just confusing, that was all.

It was only when Sally shook him gently by the shoulder that Ric even realised he’d fallen asleep.



Mattie had held back tears again as the nurse helped into some of her own clothes but in the end she felt better for it, just as she knew Beth would feel slightly better for seeing her like it. Even this small act of defiance left her tired and sore but it was a start; a way to show her mother and the others that she wasn’t giving in or giving up. Settling herself back on her bed (this time on top of the covers), she wondered what to do next. She’d just decided when her mother arrived.

“Morning Mattie, feeling a bit brighter?” Beth kissed her on the cheek, clearly pleased with the improvement.

“Yeah, thanks,” Mattie’s smiled faded somewhat, “though I don’t think I’ll ever take getting dressed for granted again. Listen, Mum, I’ve been doing some thinking.”

“I’m listening.” Beth said pulling up a chair, curious now.

“Well, when Kit and Robbie get back, I know Kit and I were never really that close, but do you think she might she might teach me a few words of French for my trip; seeing as how she lived there and everything?”

Beth looked slightly surprised and more than a little pleased that someone was finally sharing her optimism:

“Oh I don’t see why not, you can always ask; that’s a great idea.”

Mattie was relieved: “Good, I thought it might sound weird.”

“Not at all.” Beth smiled. “Now, can I get you anything?”

“No, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Tasha if she’s up to visitors.”

“Ok I’ll go and check.”



Up early, Ric went for a walk on the beach. His Aunt Morag had arrived late the previous night and was now looking after his Granddad and Sally had persuaded him to go and do something ‘normal’ before his head exploded. He was glad she had; even when the world seemed to be at it’s bleakest (which it did right now), the bleakness had a beauty in it here. Without really noticing how he got there, he found himself over=looking what he knew had been his late foster-father Flynn’s favourite view of the Bay. Flynn had taught Ric so many lessons by simply bringing him here and staring out at the view and pretending to chat about anything except what they were ACTUALLY talking about.

There’d been fun times to; here was where they’d had a family picnic to celebrate he couldn’t remember what just now, and here was he and Sal had laughed themselves silly watching Cassie and Flynn trying their hands at sand yachting and failing abysmally! Here little Pippa had first seen the sea and here (though he’d never told anyone this), was where Ric planned to marry someday. He picked up a pebble and skimmed it out across the waves, sending his thoughts along with it:

‘If Martha and the others are… with you Flynn mate, you look after them, understand? And if not (and they’d better not be!) you move your backside, pull some strings up there and get them back to us OR ELSE!’



“Hey Tasha, Jack. Tasha how are you and my little niece or nephew going?” Mattie smiled gently.

“Hey Mattie,” her voice was barely above a whisper, as though she feared even the sound may disturb her child. “We’re pretty ok, thanks to ‘Uncle Jack’ over there.”

Jack smiled for Tasha’s sake, but Mattie could see the hollow agony in his eyes: “Mum told me what you did, thank you Jack.”

“You are all welcome.” Jack replied, eternally grateful that Mattie hadn’t said anything ‘comforting’.

Mattie sat down beside Tasha’s bed. “May I?” she asked reaching for Tasha’s tummy.

“Sure.” Tasha took Mattie’s hand and rested on her stomach.

Mattie heard Jack sigh but not wanting to cause him anymore pain (were that even possible), she turned a deaf ear and ‘kept to the script’:

“When we were little and one of us wouldn’t settle Mum used to sing to us; that might help.”

“I don’t know any children’s songs; I never learnt any.” Tasha sighed.

Mattie frowned in thought for a second; she’d forgotten how different Tasha’s childhood had been:

“Well, I don’t have a great voice but I can try… if you’d like?”

“Sure; we’d both like that.”

Mattie cleared her throat and ignoring the stab of pain from her burn, she timidly began her own favourite childhood song:

“Somewhere over the rainbow…”

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Returning from refilling Jack’s water jug, Lucas pulled up short as he heard the notes of a song drift past him. Wasn’t that Mattie’s voice? He was surprised; he didn’t know that she could sing! In that split second he wondered what else he didn’t know about his, well, he wasn’t exactly sure WHAT Mattie was anymore, particularly after that ‘thing’ with the bandages. They’d just have to talk that through once everyone was safe he decided; some things would just have to wait.

Curious now, Lucas peeped around the door and Jack beckoned him in, a finger to his lips. The younger Holden brother then tip-toed across the room and set the jug down as quietly as he could, watching and listening to Matilda all the while.

Eyes closed and head held as high as her deep scars would allow, Mattie sang softly and clearly not just to Tasha and the baby, but also Robbie, Kit, and the others, wherever they were, to. Somehow she was sure they could tell. Their faces hovered before her mind’s eye; all of them were happy and smiling, even Belle. Such thought were a great comfort to Matilda.

As she sang, she felt Tasha pick up her hand and move it with the baby. The baby kicked. Was that approval or the equivalent of a raspberry? The thought made her giggle slightly into a note and Tasha squeezed her hand realising what she was thinking. Courage boosted by the baby’s seeming response, Mattie’s voice became louder and more assured. At the final words:

“Why then, oh why can't I?”

Mattie heard Jack choke back a sob and realised to her horror that the slight ‘thud!’ she heard after it could only have been Lucas clapping a supportive hand on his brother’s shoulder. Worse was to come for Mattie when she opened her eyes however. At the foot of Tasha’s bed, each with tears streaming down their faces, stood Beth and Irene.

Panicked, Mattie fled from the room.

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