Disclaimer : I do not own the characters.

Setting : After 'The End of Jenny'

For Michelle : Thank you for correction, suggestion, and support!

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the knot

by mgld

David Grief knew that it wasn't her fault. He was just irritated and felt guilty for feeling comfortable when he shouldn't be. Besides a few one-day trips, this was the first voyage that he had Isabelle Reed as his business partner. Even from the first one-day trip, he hadn't felt uncomfortable with her. Unexpectedly, she was earnest and not pushy –well, not too pushy. During their third one-day trip together, the young, miserable captain had found himself laughing with her.

And it made him feeling guilty.

He shouldn't enjoy these moment without his real partner, Mo.

He should feel miserable the entire time, because Mo wasn't there.

And now, he felt guilty for both accepting Isabelle and forgetting Mo even for a moment.

"David, I finished checking the cargo. What do you want me to do next?"

"I can't look after you now, but maybe Tah-Mey could find a time to teach you how to tie a knot."

She was startled at his unexpected harsh tone. Though it had taken a moment, her anger had risen. "I know all knots already, don't I?"

"-You don't. I'll tell Tah-Mey what to teach you."

When David sneaked a peek at Isabelle, she was trying that knot which her spiteful partner had ordered her to learn.

The knot was an old islander's knot, a very complicated one, -a knot which wasn't necessary.

Tah-Mey who had to teach her it sat beside her. Both his crew's and partner's expression showed their patience. As they sat like that, Isabelle's healthy, suntanned profile looked pale and her elegant neckline looked so delicate against the muscular, young and dark Tah-Mey.

Whose usually unreadable face looked sorry for her. Of course, Tah-Mey knew that the knot wasn't necessary for crewing. "I think you made a perfect one, now. Maybe you'll be able to make it alone after two or three more."

The beautiful student smiled weakly at his praise.

The knot looked very festive; it was like a thick round flower or a big bud waiting to bloom when it was knotted using vividly colored rope. In fact, a long time ago, it had been used for building sacred towers or small altars during some festivals. But who would need such a knot onboard?

The only time you could use this knot was when you needed a knot unable to ever be untied. But again, Tah-Mey had never needed it during their voyages. They had secure knots tied in the proper sailor's way and it was so much easier.

Truth be told, even in usual life on land, the knot was rarely seen. And the loyal sailor wondered how his captain knew about the knot -and if the captain himself could tie the knot?

I know this isn't necessary. You just wait, David Grief, I'll show you how to use this knot. Believe me. They had started this voyage in good spirits. Even the depressed captain had laughed twice in the past four hours. But then, suddenly, his mood had changed. Isabelle finished the perfect knot for the third time and glared towards the helm.

Only Sparrow saw it and murmured, "Uh, oh! Be careful, Captain." He liked Isabelle's cooking much more than his captain's. Therefore, it was very clear whom he should stand by.

He wouldn't warn his captain.

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David was searching for a chance to apologize to Isabelle -no, not exactly apologize, but showing that he felt sorry for her. But she didn't seem to want to come near him. When she announced their meal, she didn't come beside him with a lovely smile like last time.

Apparently in a bad mood, she just called out from distance and stormed off to the opposite side where they couldn't see each other.

Now what can I do? David sighed. He felt his heart ache a bit remembering how Isabelle's magnificent eyes had been a stormy gray when he had ordered her to learn the knot.

She was already perfect at all proper knots, and she could do some jobs onboard, too. He knew that. However, he had ordered her to learn that unnecessary knot when she had asked what she should do next.

Her eyes only turned that color when she was hurt or upset.

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He hadn't been surprised when Isabelle had left with Tah-Mey. Even though at all the other negotiations she had insisted on staying with him.

I know. She's still angry with me…

Since the men whom they had to deal with spoke fluent English, he didn't need his Polynesian crew to stay with him. So that after a half an hour of quick loading, he had ordered his crew to go back to the boat and prepare for departure.

"Forty minutes. I'll be back onboard in forty minutes. Prepare quickly. We can't afford to waste our time," he had said to Tah-Mey, who was rowing the dinghy, but he had meant for Isabelle to hear it.

The young captain hadn't had enough guts to command the angry woman directly.

The negotiation went much smoother than he had expected. He could have had time for one drink. But he thought about Isabelle. It's better to go back soon.

When he grabbed his bright red shirt off one of wooden posts, something rrrrrrrrrripped.

"W, what?" David looked closely at his shirts for the first time since he had left it there before loading.

The sleeves were attached to the post with a firm knot.

It looked like a big scarlet bud.

"I can't believe that woman!" He knew he couldn't untie it. The only way he could get back his red shirt was using his knife. Despite the fact that his shirt had been damaged already, he hesitated.

He glanced towards the Rattler. The time he had promised to return drew closer and closer.

The miserable captain cut his shirt's sleeves off with a heavy sigh.

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The strongly built captain rowed powerfully towards his boat, grumbling, "You, evil, woman, pain -in -the -ass, -I should have known -what you would plan -with the knot…, damn…next time…"

He glanced at his shirt discarded at his foot. Something was bubbling within him. Suddenly David burst out into laughter.

Strangely, he felt leave a small part of the tension he had held long since Jenny.

On the Rattler, Isabelle Reed was making a series of the knots with David's blue shirt, brown shirt, and white shirt while humming a merry song. The sea breeze felt good on her face.

Her oriental-green eyes were twinkling, imagining how much pleasure she would feel when all his shirts fluttered at the main mast. The nice aroma of strong coffee which Sparrow had brought for her earlier mingled salty smell.

"I found this at the helm!" Tah-Mey, Captain Grief's loyal crew member added a gray-blue shirt onto the pile.

-end-