Disclaimer: Treasure Planet belongs to Disney. Not me. This makes me terribly sad inside.
Author's Note: I really need to stop with the whole "Don't update for a whole year" thing. Good god, I'm so sorry, everyone. Last fall was quite possibly the worst semester of my entire life, with a horrible post break up situation and a whole lot of anxiety and depression issues... anyway, excuses aside, ALL of my writing suffered. Because I haven't written anything - ANYTHING - until now. I know, I'm excited too. Please accept this chapter as a sincere apology, and do enjoy.
The next morning at breakfast Jim made the questionable decision to serve Warren's table. Usually it was Finn's job (and now he knew why), and she began to protest when he took that tray, but after the look he gave her – somewhere between "try and argue" and "I understand" – she frowned and reluctantly conceded. They never said a word to each other, but there had been a shift in her posture as he took the tray. Relief, maybe? Whatever it was, when they got into the mess hall she immediately headed for Konrade's table, and Jim worked his way to where Warren and his lackeys lounged.
"Well, well, well, look here. The busboy." Warren sneered. "Where's our usual bonny lass?"
Jim began setting down plates and said, "Finn? She's working like the rest of us."
A few glances were exchanged along the table, accompanied by sneers or smirks. Warren raised an eyebrow.
"Is she now?" The other boys chuckled as he continued, "Rather good at her job, wouldn't you say?"
Jim shrugged non-commitally as he pulled napkin-wrapped silver from his apron pocket. "As good as the rest of us, I guess. Don't really pay much attention. Perp juice?"
Warren waved the pitcher away, and Jim couldn't help but notice that both his palms shimmered a dusky gold. His eyes narrowed, but the cadet didn't bother to see and continued speaking as Jim looked hastily away and poured beverages for the underlings.
"I suggest you stay away from her, busboy. Even outskirts trash like yourself shouldn't have to dally with her brand of dock scum."
Jim nearly made the off-hand comment that Warren apparently "dallied" in it rather often, but he kept his mouth shut. Instead he nodded curtly and excused himself from the table, having finished his duties. He tucked the tray under his arm and headed towards the kitchens, sending a glance Konrade's way. The cadet raised a questioning eyebrow and Jim shook his head rapidly as Finn turned in the seat she'd taken to see who Konrade was looking at. Her face closed the moment she saw it was him, and Jim gave her an awkward smile before ducking into the hall. Finn frowned and turned back to Konrade, who attempted a nonchalant smirk.
It failed miserably, of course.
"You're up to something," Finn stated, and Konrade gave her an offended look.
"How dare you imply that I'm involved in some sort of half-cocked scheme with the kitchen boy?" But she raised an eyebrow, and Konrade shrugged.
"I'm not up to anything. Swear it on my own mother's grave."
"Your mother isn't dead, you ungrateful twat."
Konrade chuckled at her. "Language, Findobhair, dear. People might start to question the propriety of the staff."
"Shut up." She shook her head and gathered her tray, preparing to leave. The cadet's expression turned mildly serious.
"Spoken to him yet?"
She froze slightly, and then turned her nose up and stood. "I don't know what you're talking about," she quipped, and then walked off, leaving Konrade rolling his eyes and shaking his head.
They found each other in the tool shed.
Both of them had finished their work for the day and Smrott had left them with the rest of the day for themselves. Jim was momentarily exhausted of thinking about Finn and Warren and his god-forsaken letter (which was admittedly more likely stuck in a gutter than hiding in Finn's room, but he had pride and principles to stick to), and he'd decided that he was going to work on the hidden solar surfer. He needed to do something that required brainpower, not just a mindless task for idle hands, and mechanical work promised that, at least. He just hadn't intended on finding Finn trying to filch that from him, too.
Finn didn't know why she was heading for the tool shed. She was trying to run from her thoughts and that path had unfortunately led her back to where her contemplation had really begun. It didn't trouble her, really, because the quiet shed was as good a place to not think as any, and besides, she could fool around with that piece of junk that Jim thought he was building. That would cheer her up. She just hadn't intended on running into him at the door.
"What are you doing here?"
Jim fumbled for words. "I'm – It's none of your business! What are you doing here?"
Finn stuttered too. "I'm – Nothing. Mind your own business."
They both stared at each other, neither wanting to make the move towards the shed door in case the other guessed what they were up to.
"Shouldn't you be washing dishes or something?" Finn snapped.
Jim frowned. "Shouldn't you be in town trying to pick pockets?"
"Would you just give it up? I don't have your damned letter! Aren't you supposed to be getting a new one anyway?" She narrowed her eyes at him in obvious distaste. "How special you are. Mr. Hawkins gets post directly from the Admiral whenever he cries about having lost the first, whenever he gets stuck doing things he doesn't want to do. You were made to be a stuck-up Navy brat–"
"Hey, I got here because I worked for it, dammit-!"
Finn rolled her eyes. "Oh, of course, just like all the others with their rich parents 'worked for it'. It's not like you risked your neck to get here."
Well, he'd had enough. He shook his head and opened the tool shed door, saying, "Actually, I did."
Finn frowned at him.
He didn't bother looking at her as he stepped inside. "Yeah, why don't you ask Silver about it sometime. I'm sure he'd be willing to tell you all about it."
He tried to shut the door behind him, but Finn stuck her foot in the way. "Wait, what do you mean?" she demanded, squeezing into the shed after him. The light was dim coming through the dusty windows, but there was enough of it to make out the bumpy shape of the solar surfer beneath a ratty painters dropcloth. Jim went over to it and pulled the cloth aside, blatantly ignoring her inquiry, and set about fitting the small rear panels about the engine to the main board. Finn watched him in silent indignation, her arms folded across her chest and her eyes narrowed.
"What are you talking about, Jim?" she tried again. He took a moment to reply, throwing a mock-distracted glance over his shoulder.
"Huh? Did you say something?"
She squinted further. "What do you mean, I should ask Silver about it? What are you talking about?"
Jim watched her a moment, face contemplative as he tossed a wrench between his hands. He seemed to come to some sort of decision and put the tool down, and then cocked his head at her, a strange gleam in his eye that unnerved Finn just a bit.
"Did you ever hear of Captain Flint and Treasure Planet?"
Jim couldn't help but chuckle to himself after he'd finished his explanation. Finn's mouth was hanging open wide enough to catch flies.
"None of that's true," she finally managed to sputter out. "That can't be true. It's a myth! A legend!" And yet something had changed in her face that reminded him of a little kid: a strong desire to believe his words coupled with a small ounce of awe.
It looked rather attractive on her face.
He shoved that thought out the window as fast as it appeared.
"It's all true. Ask Silver if you don't believe me."
She nodded absently, her gaze drifting to the side as she digested what she'd just been told. Jim didn't blame her for not believing him, really; had he not been the one that all of those things had happened to, he wouldn't have believed it, either.
He took a deep breath and let it out through his nose. With the exception of his mother (and even then he'd left out all of the life-threatening parts), he'd never related the events of that voyage to anyone. Now that it had left his mouth, he felt the better for it, like a weight had been removed from his back in the telling. He sighed again, feeling like he could breathe just a bit easier.
"I really don't have your letter, you know."
His head snapped up to find her still staring into the dusty space of the shed, but he knew she'd spoken. She must have felt his eyes on her, because she finally looked up, her amethyst eyes still so bright in the dimness.
"Honest," she added, and Jim sighed and brushed her words off with the rise and fall of a shoulder.
"I honestly don't care anymore," he said, a note of weariness creeping into his voice. "I just wanna get out the damn kitchens."
Finn smirked a bit, he was pleased to see, but her mouth fell again. "I am sorry. I didn't know... If I can help..."
"Do you know where it is?"
She frowned. "Well... no, not exactly. I couldn't tell you who even has it now."
Something in Jim's expression changed, and she drew her brows together as he asked, "Someone has it?"
A new weight settled onto his shoulders. "You mean you just gave it to someone? Who?"
"I didn't just 'give' it to someone!" Finn shot back, her hands clenching. "And I just said I don't know who has it! It could be on another planet for all I know. I don't keep track of all the sailors in this port."
He stared at her in disbelief. "You gave it to a sailor?" His voice sounded a little weak. It was long gone by now.
"Of course not," she snapped. "I sold it with the rest of what was in that ratty bag." She rolled her eyes. "Honestly, you think I'd just give those sorts of things away?"
He could feel his jaw muscles twitch as he ground his teeth together. She ignored his ire, though, and stepped around him to examine the solar surfer. Jim used her silence to calm himself down, breathing heavily through his nose until he felt like he wasn't going to throttle her. It was easier than he thought it would be, as he soon discovered. Watching her had a far more soothing effect than he first assumed.
Neither of them spoke for a while. Finn's hands drifted across the metal and exposed wires of the board, and Jim found himself absorbed in watching her long, delicate fingers brush across the beaten and bruised scraps he'd put together, how her nebula-colored eyes fell half-shut in quiet examination of his tinkerings.
His palm began to tingle.
"I guess its my turn, then."
"Hm?" Jim blinked and his brain came back into focus, not realizing she'd spoken. He'd been staring. He fought the blood that was rising to his face with all he had. He was NOT going to blush like a girl...
She didn't seem to notice; she was engrossed in the throttle mechanism that was lying on a bench next to the main body of the surfer. "You told me how you knew Silver. I guess it's only fair that I tell you how I know him, too."
She looked at him at that, her eyes narrowing in annoyance. Jim swallowed. Good god, was there an expression that didn't look lovely on her face? What was she doing to him?
Thankfully her eyes went back to the solar surfer as she began to speak.
"He knew my mum," she said quietly. "When I lived in the Docks Circle. We – We worked at a tavern, there were always sailors and pirates around. Silver was one of them, always stopping by if he was in port." A small smile came to her lips, her eyes focused on some memory. "He would bring me things, sometimes, when I was young. Presents. Treasures." Her eyes swung round to his again.
"I never had a father. Silver, he –" She stopped and fiddled with a loose string on her apron. "And then when Mum died and I came here..." She shrugged. "He looked after me."
Jim nodded absently, his mind wandering. Training someone in piracy didn't really fall into the category of "looking after someone," but then again, this was John Silver they were talking about. He knew nothing else. Except, maybe, how to look after someone who needed it. He felt a small pang of jealousy towards that particular thought, but brushed it away. He of all people knew that there was more to Silver than pirating and mutiny, and who was he to begrudge someone else that had been rescued by the cyborg? Still, none of it answered the more pertinent question of what they had been searching for in the brig of that galleon.
Jim had been about to open his mouth to ask Finn just that question, but a voice from outside the shed stopped him. He frowned and went to the door, wrenching it open in time to see Andrew, one of the younger kitchen boys, walking past, calling his name.
"I'm here, what is it?"
Andrew spun and jogged up to him, obviously excited about something. Jim felt like he needed to hold him down; the boy was practically shaking with energy.
"Jim! I've been trying to find you! Mr. Smrott said I had to find you and tell you -"
The urge to put a weight on his head was growing stronger. Behind him, he could feel Finn's curiosity and mirth at his obvious frustration flowing off of her, and he scowled.
"Tell me what, Andy?"
The boy took a deep breath, trembling with the apparent importance of his message.
Jim's stomach fell out with the rush of words. Did he...?
"Say that again?"
Andrew puffed up. "The Admiral!" he squeaked excitedly. "He wants to see you! Why's he want to see you, Jim? Do you know? Are you in trouble? If we get in trouble we just have to deal with Mr. Smrott. Did you do something cool? Did you-"
The boy kept on babbling, but Jim was no longer paying attention. Was this it? Had the Admiral finally come back with his decision? Was he finally going to be enrolled in the Academy?
He glanced back at Finn, who just watched him with blank eyes. He wanted to talk to her still, to find out about Silver, but if the Admiral wanted to see him...
He gave her a questioning look, and she simply shrugged. Without saying anything further, she stepped around him and took Andrew by the shoulder and began leading him off. The boy shifted his queries on to her, but she shushed him and told him they'd get something to eat. Jim watched her leave with an odd sense of dismay, but it couldn't squash the nervous excitement of finally getting an answer.
He took a deep breath, and headed off towards the main Academy building, knowing that he would finally – finally – never have to be a kitchen boy ever again.
Author's Note: Yay! Plot! Now, I know I promised last time that it wouldn't be forever between updates, but I promise right now that it wont be a year between this chapter and the next. A couple months maybe (I'm busy with school) but not a year. I swear on my mother's - wait. Teehee. I just swear. Now review and tell me how mad you were that I took this long to update! :D