She laughed before she had time enough to fully understand why it was she did, a surprised sound of humor caught off guard with its defenses down, and Sarah covered her mouth with the back of her hand, flour downy and white on the shallow creases of her palm. Her shoulders shook anyway, giving her away though she tried to pretend she had control yet, and she lowered her hand after she had calmed her lips, stilling them in case she were to laugh again, returning her fingers to kneading the dusty dough with expertise.

"Ah, naow," she heard the cook's deep brogue, a perpetually amused rumble of letters and sounds, "there ain't bein' no harm in laughing, Miss Hawkins, if ye be forgivin' me forwardness." A blade shifted out with a subtle zing from his mechanical arm, slicing quickly and without a note of effort through the jujurin shrimp laid out before him, dark blue creatures in a soft gelatinous shell. The curling, plated tails were skinned off, then swept to the side, and she scooped them absently into her apron, hiding her hand under the cloth to grip the undesirable bits. Silver paused, the blade flicking back into the waiting arm to be replaced by a small drill that he wielded over the immeasurably hard fruit he would need to bore into for the malleable flesh inside, and considered the implications. Had he been at the Benbow Inn long enough already that he and the pup's mother could work as well together as it seemed? Part of it he attributed to the apparent fact that Jim had never told her about the crafty pirate, and he thanked the lad in his mind, as he had nearly every day over the years.

"They always seem to stain my best aprons," she sighed, returning to her dough and digging her fingers deep into the sallow depths, working the softer innards up to meet the warm air of the kitchen. "Twenty years working my own inn and I still haven't caught the hang of it yet." She smiled, worn lines around her mouth and eyes made less so by the firelight crackling from the large stove squarely centered in the expansive kitchen. "You know exactly what you're doing, though," she noted, cupping the dough, satisfied with its texture, and molding it swiftly into a smooth loaf to be baked.

"Aye, when ye spend as many years traipsin' about them stars as I," he replied with a cocky twist of his lips as the smaller figure carefully lifted the sticky loaf, "ye haf ta learn yerself a few t'ings t'keep yer gut filled an' yer hands busy." He patted his gut with his human hand, earning another subdued laugh from the woman, and, mechanical arm switching away from the hard fruits with their holes bored, emptied the frothy liquid into the bowl she absently elbowed across the wooden counter to him. "An' after all, who c'n make tings th' way y'want 'em if ye can't e'en make 'em yerself?" he said philosophically, cyborg eye twinkling.

"Precisely," she agreed and he thought perhaps the lines around her eyes seemed to be just a little lighter than before.


Notes: I've been working on 'Happenstance' for about two to three weeks now, and though I'm nearly done with the first part (*crosses fingers*), it's stretching a bit longer than I expected. In any case, if I don't manage to finish it as soon as I hope to, here's the teaser! Flames? Comments? Verbal abuse? Thanks. :]

Originally posted May 11, 2003 at royalnavyacademy.blogspot.com.

Disclaimer: Sarah Hawkins, Jim Hawkins, and John Silver belong to various people, ranging from Disney to Robert Louis Stevenson (whom I prostrate myself before and beg forgiveness of). I'm merely writing 'Happenstance' to make myself feel content inside.