Inspiried by Coneflower Adams; even though I've been wanting to do it for years. Their story finally inspired me to try it myself. I'm horribly sorry for I believe Silver gets very out of character around the end of this chapter. There's one more after this, so anyone who liked "In Good Hands" is in for a treat. Please Read and Review!
Shadows and smoke mixed to form a nearly impenetrable veil around the shady tavern and its occupants. Silent silhouettes lurked just outside of the corner of every bar-goers vision, which made it better in the long run here, because seeing someone's face might just result in losing a piece of your own. This was one of those places where no one asked questions and everyone liked it that way. Half of the attendants tonight were on the wanted lists of authoritative figures all over the galaxies; the exceptional few in even more than one galaxy! The other half were either ex-cons, or on their way to being ones. It wasn't cushy, and it wasn't home, but for John Silver, it was a pretty decent pit stop for where he was headed.
Today marked the one year anniversary for the beginning of the Treasure Planet excursion. One year ago today John Silver had signed on to find his dreams. One year ago today he had begun the greatest adventure in interstellar history; and one year ago today marked the anniversary of a friendship he had never anticipated.
A ghost of a smile flickered upon the old scallywag's face as his memories settled fondly upon those months in space with the tough and brash young James Hawkins, known to Silver (and only to Silver) as "Jimbo". One year ago today. Silver had to wonder what the pup was up to these days. No doubt he was studying hard at the Academy, but as a school cadet Jim was allowed two free summers and one sabbatical. At least, that was what Silver had been told. The order in which these could be taken depended solely on the student, so the only way Silver had any way of knowing was to get in contact with his old prodigy.
And in an uncharacteristic swing of moods, which could only be explained as fatherly affection, Silver had done just that.
In a five page letter written exclusively in his own hand, Silver had asked the boy about what his plans were for his first summer off, what he was studying at school, how he was doing, and how his mother's Inn was fairing. In less than a week, Silver had received an equally long response including answers to all of his questions save for the latter, to which Jim had merely replied: "Why don't you come out here and find out?".
Slightly astonished by such a forward invitation, Silver had jokingly agreed in his next letter. He was, however, even more astonished to discover in Jim's second letter that a room would be ready for him upon his arrival. Now, some weeks later, Silver sat in a musty, run down old bar finding himself longing for anywhere with a warm bed. He had not forgotten that the Benbow had one exclusively with his name on it, and had every intention of making his way there once the quiet faded away with the shadows here.
That, however, would not be soon enough. Small crowds still surged through the entryway, causing Silver to pull the collar of his pea coat closer toward his face to conceal his identity. Bounty hunters were sure to be perusing the area tonight, and he certainly didn't want to be falling into the law's hands anytime soon.
With a sigh, Silver drained the last of his ale and shuffled around in his coat pockets for some drubloons. He left them on the counter where the bartender would easily be able to see that at least one of his customers was honest enough to leave pay, and was about to leave when a quick movement to his left startled him. A human male of about forty plus years had collapsed at the bar, looking worn over for every mile he'd traveled tonight and then some. Much to Silver's amazement, the middle aged man ordered the strongest ale the bartender could concoct and sat with a sullen expression on his face as he waited for his evening relief.
What truly hit him strangely about this man was his uncanny resemblance to another person that he knew. Ice blue eyes and browned hair, with a long square nose and lips that always seemed pressed into a frown of one sort or another dressed his face. The same sad glare that openly advertised scorn for the world was both in his eyes and his movements while his shoulders slumped forward in a failing effort to block out the rest of the world. Before Silver realized he was staring, the man turned his gaze toward the cyborg and sighed.
"Can I help you, sir?" he asked in a voice far too mature for a sixteen year old boy. No, this was not Jim Hawkins, but Silver had to wonder...
"I, uh...um, no." Silver looked away quickly, rubbing the back of his neck to relieve the swelling nervous tension. "It's just that...you look familiar, is all."
The man turned his gaze toward Silver once more, looking him up and down and blinking several times in order to retrieve a memory that the former pirate knew he didn't have. "Well I'm afraid you must be thinking of someone else," he said after a few moments. "Because you certainly don't look familiar, and if I'd met you before I would definitely have remembered."
Silver chuckled nervously. "Yeah, probably," he replied in agreement. It certainly wasn't something he could deny. There weren't too many cyborg canides out there, and even less as large and burly as Silver. "S'cuse me," he muttered in an apologetic tone.
The man merely chuckled lightly and extended his left hand, taking note of the condition of Silver's right one. "Roland Hawkins," he said as casually as Silver might have never imagined. And it was, to Roland, who had no idea about the common ground they both shared: Roland's son; Jim Hawkins. Silver, however, was nearly floored by the revelation. He had never once thought through this situation, though he'd imagined it numerous times since he had said goodbye to Jim on the Legacy one year ago. Yet here he was now, the most worthless piece of anything to crawl out of the primordial ooze of the shallow end of the gene pool, sitting right here next to him without a care in the world. The most astounding part to Silver really was how close he was to home. He'd have thought that any man running away from something would distance himself as much as possible from the problem, but not Roland Hawkins. Only two wide leaps away from the mining planet Montressor, Roland undoubtedly had no concern of being found by the family he'd abandoned so long ago.
Silver took Roland's hand and squeezed it hard. Imagining that it was in fact this man's neck helped ease his frustrations some, but he wasn't sure how long it would be before he let loose and thrashed the man into the next life.
"John Silver," the cyborg stated quietly, suddenly wondering if had been very smart to reveal his true name.
"Silver, eh?" the man scratched his chin before turning to swig at his tankard. "You a spacer?"
Silver nodded, ordering one more round. "Yep."
"Of course," Roland commented, a grin forming on his face. "Spacers can always spot other spacers."
'Can they now', thought Silver sardonically. He peered coldly into the bottom of his own tankard, hoping that his expression would not betray his thoughts to this man beside him. 'Just like one no good can tell another no good I suppose.'
"Been at it for five years," Roland continued, seeming very interested in hearing himself talk. "What about you? You look like old salt, if I may say."
Silver's brow furrowed. "Old salt" was a term spacers used to describe men who had worked in the field for so long that it was more a way of life than a career. Of course, there was more to it then that. Old salt could describe anything from the physical condition of a spacer right down to his attitude. Silver supposed that he had it both. His skin was permanently darkened from working under the heat and light of many suns, and his mood was as sour as an unripe perp when crossed, and sometimes even when left alone. His body was built with an equal share of both fat and muscle, making him not so much a fantastic specimen in ways of appearance, but when it came to strength he could easily pull his own weight and then some. Old salt? Yeah, that was Silver, but a comment such as that from the likes of Roland Hawkins didn't mean much considering the measure of the man's ownintegrity.
"You could say that," Silver said with more disinterest than he had intended. Roland, blissfully clueless, grinned and returned his tankard to a pair of smiling lips that Silver could only imagine being bruised under his fist. How arrogant was this guy, anyway? How was it that this could be Jim's dad? The boy was nothing like this mess here before him. "So, you got a family Mr. Hawkins?" he asked suddenly. The question so surprised Roland that he literally choked down the last few gulps of his drink. He coughed and sputtered before looking in Silver's general direction.
"Why do you ask?"
Silver shrugged. "I dunno. You seem like a family kinda man," he lied.
A glance in Roland's direction showed Silver just how nervous the man was now. His hands shook as he waved the bartender down for a refill, and his gaze didn't meet Silver's again for many minutes.
"I had a family," he stated.
In a classic expression of his, John Silver allowed his lower lip to jut out while he pretended to mull this answer around in his head. "What happened?"
"I...uh," he stopped to rub a grizzly hand through his hair. Eyes darting about to and fro, he seemed more eager to make a run for it then answer this question; and that was exactly what he did. Tossing a few coins on the bar, Roland Hawkins unsystematically dismissed himself and headed toward the door. Silver did the same, following Roland out the door. By the time he found the man, he was already in the process of starting up a small long boat.
"You didn't answer my question, Mr. Hawkins," Silver stated while placing a harsh emphasis on his name. Roland turned with an angry flash in his eyes.
"Who are you?" he hissed, still trying to start the longboat. "What do you want from me?"
"I want to know why you left your family."
"My family?" Roland spat, his face drawing up into a sneer that made Silver want to vomit. "What do you know about my family?"
"Your wife and your son. "
"They're no business of yours!"
With a snarl Silver snatched Roland up out of the longboat and held him off the side of the dock where a drop off extended some miles below. His flesh hand was grasped so tightly about Roland's shirt that his knuckles had gone white. All the while, Roland pleaded for his life, for someone to help him, for anything. Silver, however, would not pass mercy so easily.
"You taking care of them, Mr. Hawkins?" He asked. Silver's cyborg eye blazed a dangerous red that curdled the blood of his human quarry. Gears could be heard shifting inside of his mechanical hand. It took everything Silver had to not will his gun from clicking into place, though he wasn't sure why he was trying to hold back. It would be fun to give Roland some comeuppance considering his lack of care for that which he had left behind. "You making sure they stay safe?"
At first Roland didn't answer, but a violent shake from Silver's arm caused an answer to fall out quite easily. "N-no," he stammered casting a glance into the valley below.
"Because I don't want anything to do with them!" he admitted. Fear for his life had caused Roland to swallow all of his pride, and it had caused Silver's stomach to churn with an unnerving lack of remorse. "I couldn't stand it there! I needed to be happy!"
"Happy?" Silver growled. "Happy!" He gripped Roland's shirt tighter and extended his arm further over the canyon. "You go off to be happy while leavin' your wife and son to fend for themselves!"
Roland choked back tears. "Why do you care? They're nothing to you!"
Narrowing his eyes, Silver pulled Roland so close to his own face that there was barely any room to pass between them.
"That's where you're wrong, Mr. Hawkins," he said in a tone that dropped suddenly and drastically lower than the raging roars he'd been emitting moments ago. "I met your son a year ago. Young Jim. Was cabin boy on me ship for a few months." Roland's eyes widened, and Silver took great pleasure in this reaction. He continued delightedly in hopes that more reactions would come forth as his story progressed. "Great lad. Smart one, though he was brash at first. Course, once you get past all that he's a good kid. Great kid..." he trailed off and launched his arm back over the drop off. "A better man then suren you're to ever be."
"Please!" Roland begged. "What do you want me to say?"
"Oh, I don't want you to be sayin' nothin'," Silver said with a wry grin. "I simply thought I'd have some fun wit' yeh. Make you jealous. Rub in your face the fact that you'll never be blessed with the pride an' honor of knowin' your son and the great man he'll some day become."
"That may be," Roland commented, now regaining some measure of dignity and nerve. "But at least I had my freedom."
This sent Silver into a fit of rage so strong that he seriously considered letting this man fall to his death. However, the more sensible side of him said that he had no right, and the truest punishment he would be dealt would be to realize exactly what he had missed. And Silver was certain that in time that payment would come. Mercilessly, he tossed Roland Hawkins back into his longboat.
"Make sure I don't be seein' you again Mr. Hawkins," he growled. "Next time I may not be so courteous to you."
Roland did not need to be told twice. Before Silver could curse him and his name one last time, he'd disappeared beyond the crevice bend. Silver was quite certain that he'd never see the spacer again, and was all the happier for it.
With a sigh, Silver gazed heavily up into the star laden sky. Suddenly, a night or two at the Benbow was sounding better now then it had ever sounded before.