Author's Note: Forgive me for not getting this chapter up sooner! (sobs) I apologize! I hope you had as good a time reading this story as I had writing it. Here it is: the last chapter of The Captain's Papers, with my deep gratitude to all of you who read and reviewed.
It was very quiet.
There had been a deafening explosion which now seemed to have been left behind us, as we very turbulently sprang into the wide blue quiet that was suddenly our trajectory. I cannot remember what my position on the bridge finally was when we were flung out into open space again, but I do remember that I had to lift my head; when I did I saw the Montressor Spaceport looming, white and welcoming, only perhaps an hour's distance away.
It was then that I heard the fiery rumble of streaking fire as we escaped the incredible explosion of Treasure Planet.
I got to my feet; I had realized in intervals that I had gotten knocked down; and I turned round just in time to see the luminescent green of the portal snap shut, locking the depleted remnants of Treasure Planet on the other side of it. With that the portal was once again hidden in the Etherium, returned to oblivion where at the time I thought it well belonged.
And then I saw Mr. Hawkins zip from below our hull to high above the masts of the ship, and a relief sank into me so great I could almost taste it. Silver was flying across the deck, waving his arms above his head, hurrying in the direction Jim was going, whooping and crying aloud from sheer excitement, calling, "Ye done it, boy! Ye done it, Jim!" The crew below was also shouting and crying and stomping their feet for joy, and I daresay I heard some of them break out into song. At some point during this time the Doctor finally found his feet, and despite my already utter and overwhelming joy, seeing him standing there alive and well was more relieving and incomprehensibly wonderful than anything I have ever known.
We had gathered each other into our arms long before either of us realized it, and although it has never been habitual of me to take hold of anyone without due warning, this spontaneous embrace felt exactly right. I was nestled in the arms of the same man that had supported me when Arrow was lost, had carried me when my injury prevented me from walking, and had tended so kindly to me when I had fallen ill. Even though at the time it had not truly registered that I had so inappropriately flung my arms around the Doctor, I recognized a sense of comfort and safety knowing I was there in his arms.
In one moment I had tightly embraced the Doctor, and in the next moment the Doctor tensed slightly and I realized the Doctor was also holding onto me. We both stiffened at this new interval, eyes wide with horror at what the other must now think of us. I myself was feeling absolutely ludicrous. I heard a humiliated part of me rebuke my behavior, reverberating inside my head, constantly arguing that I'd just thrown my dignity out the window—what the Doctor must think of me! I shall own that for a moment I was rigid with fear as to what he might be thinking, but at the same time I wondered at why I should worry so about what he must think. I was not here to impress him, and yet through the course of the voyage I found that not only did I trust his impression and opinion, but somehow it had become so important that I desired it. With this in mind, I found enough strength within me to relax, keeping my arms about him.
He slowly did the same. Recovering from the embrace now, I turned my head slightly away, but I held his gaze a while longer. I couldn't help allowing a slow smile to spread slightly (and rather coquettishly, in retrospect) across my face, but when he followed suit and smiled down at me, I let it go entirely unchecked. He hadn't seen me smile enough on this cruise.
The crew was still singing and shouting and making a lot of noise, and while for the moment nothing sounded better than remaining there a little longer, I was becoming burningly aware of the captain I was still obligated to be. I loosened the embrace a little and observed to the Doctor confidentially, "I suppose I shall be delving deeper into this situation we've created for ourselves sometime soon."
The Doctor's smile broadened. "I was hoping you would," he replied. I laughed and pulled gently away, once again recovering my captain's composure.
At that moment Jim dismounted his manufactured craft with a flourish and landed heavily on the deck. He was met by a very exuberant pet Morph. I let my gaze avert to Jim there on the deck, watching him with rather rocked admiration; the teenage boy who had saved us all. I looked back at the Doctor, who had also caught sight of Jim and was smiling proudly. "And what shall we do with him?" I asked, indicating Mr. Hawkins.
The Doctor tilted his head and looked at me thoughtfully. "We'll take him home; his mother's going to be very proud of him."
"As am I," I inserted, looking back down at him. He was by now dissolved in laughter, for the Morph would not stop licking him. "Does he do well in school?" I inquired.
The Doctor's brow knitted and he then cleared his throat. I lifted an eyebrow.
"It doesn't matter," I laughed shortly, and then disclosed, "I think I know just the place for him. How does the Interstellar Academy sound? I attended myself, so I can safely say they like precarious ploys like the one Mr. Hawkins has demonstrated." I patted the Doctor on the shoulder, smiling, and moved from the bridge.
I was followed to the gangway by the Doctor, and together we descended to the deck to congratulate Jim Hawkins. The Morph relieved Jim of his bath, and as he straightened the Doctor and I made our way to him, I on Jim's left and the Doctor crossing to his right.
"Unorthodox," I began with mild incredulity upon reaching Mr. Hawkins. I allowed myself a breath of laughter at my surprise, "But—ludicrously effective."
Jim gave me a large, cocked grin at my praise, and I continued, only barely able to contain my pride in him, "I'd be proud to recommend you to the Interstellar Academy. They could use a man like you."
Jim's reaction could only flash through his bright blue eyes before the Doctor turned him enthusiastically around and gestured eagerly, "Just wait until your mother hears about this!" Then his features softened and he gently winced. "Of course, we may downplay the life-threatening parts," he added with precaution. Jim nodded in agreement.
"Jimmy—" B.E.N suddenly came up behind me, wanting his turn. I moved toward the Doctor and we took a place adjacent to the two as the Navigator began to express his enthusiasm. It was when Jim finally hoisted the little robot off his feet and embraced him thoroughly that the Doctor placed his arm gently around my shoulders. I looked up and smiled at him, allowing my features to soften considerably. I cherished the smile he gave me in return.
It was not long before I took to the bridge again. With the quiet I felt quite fit to steer the ship home by my own hand, but the Doctor very graciously insisted upon staying with me on the bridge to keep a close eye on my welfare.
I had never seen a more beautiful sight, before or since, than the sight of the Montressor Spaceport just an hour's distance from us after such a trying experience as this voyage, which was now drawing towards a close.
You can imagine my face; I very complacently watching as the Cresentia slowly drew closer and closer, when all of a sudden I saw the last of the Legacy's longboats tack away to the opposite direction of the Cresentia, with a single driver at the tiller. He was heavy, unshaven, and at first glance might have been one you would consider honest but dim-witted, but who was in reality a misleading, fraudulent, bafflingly intelligent old cyborg. Split in half as much in loyalty as he was physically, he had the ability to make even a person who was tied fast to his convictions feel torn between the perceptions of what was right and wrong. I daresay as I watched him depart I felt a glimmer of gladness that even John Silver was finding liberation.
It also seemed to me that I couldn't let him escape, however, but it finally won out that I let him go; it would have been ridiculous of me to turn the ship about and give chase, and I had to admit I was relieved to be so easily quit of the man.
And that is the end of it. Of course, in many ways it could be considered that the end of this account is truly the beginning of other stories it gave way to: Jim Hawkins was accepted into the Interstellar Academy and is doing so well one may take the liberty of saying he is thriving. Jim gave his mother, Sarah Hawkins, more than enough money that he was somehow able to salvage from the doomed Treasure Planet to rebuild the Benbow inn she had lost to a fire. She is now the keeper of one of the loveliest inns I am aware of on Montressor, taking the old Navigator B.E.N in as a helping hand to the Benbow inn's business. And the Doctor and I—we managed very well to delve into the situation we'd created for ourselves, and I am now very happily married to him, and the mother of three daughters and a son that looks just like his father.
As far as Treasure Planet goes, I do my best to hear no more of it from old hands or Etherium fellows who might still tell the tale. I've kept the story to myself for a long while, and now I've at last succeeded in retelling it to you through this account. You may, now that you have born with me, draw from this document your own conclusions; if you believe Treasure Planet is indeed a story told to children before they sleep, that is your own business. But if you take my story to heart, and do believe with all your fancy and logic that such a place did exist, then you are most certainly in my full confidence. Tell it to whomever you please, but tell it with accuracy; and mind you now beware of the man with a metal arm and glistening eye, for he is as real as you may consider Treasure Planet to be.