Jim hung himself from the riggings, relishing the feel of the space winds blowing through his hair. Right now, in this one split-second, he felt all the emotions and previously-repressed, possibly-depressed sullen teenage boy should feel on his first time away from his mother.
"Jimbo!" He heard Silver call from across the deck. Great, good feeling gone. Silver wasn't exactly a slave-driver, he just happened to have a million tasks for Jim at any given point in the day. Jim untangled himself from the ropes and climbed down, slouching his was over to Silver.
"Reacquaintance time!" Silver chortled in a sing-songy voice, "deck gets swabbed every night, ye blunderbuss!" He offered Mr. Mop and Mrs. Bucket to Jim, who scowled and took them. His two seconds of freedom already seemed light-years away.
Jim walked to the rear of the deck. He'd only been on the R.L.S. Legacy for a couple days, but already it seemed like longer. Silver kept him down in the Galley most time washing dishes and cooking questionable meals for their substantial crew.
Jim froze. He'd know that voice anywhere. If he turned around now, he'd see the familiar figure of a short, curvy girl with a voluminous cascade of brown hair and the deepest space blue eyes this side of the Corellian Fields; standing there biting her lip, silhouetted against the stars.
"Clarie," He said, willing himself to turn around and face her. "why are you here?"
"So it was you the others were talking about..." she said. "You're the one with the map."
Jim forced himself to move, beginning to mop the deck with jerky, mechanical motions.
"I wouldn't go talking about that if I were you. The Captain wants to keep it hush-hush." Jim recognized he was being cold, but could find no acceptable alternative.
Swish, swish, swish went Mrs. Mop.
"You gonna look at me?" Clarie said, sighing. "Look, it's been-"
"I asked you what you were doing here." Jim said, cutting her off as he finally turned around.
Eclarion Jones looked exactly the same as the image he had conjured in his mind; exactly the same as she had looked the fateful day when she shattered his heart, right down to the way she always bit her lips when she was upset.
"My father died, and I decided that I would go out in space" She said, her eyes tinged with hidden sadness. That was when Jim noticed that Clarie actually looked much different than he remembered. She was thinner; the baggy shirt she wore hung off one shoulder and a heavy leather belt held up her trousers. Though her face looked much the same it had two years ago, her cheeks were more pinched and the circles under her eyes were almost the same color as the purps he had juiced that morning.
Jim looked away, avoiding her sunken eyes.
"I'm sorry to hear that."
Clarie frowned slightly, then shrugged ever so slightly and got down on her knees to clean up the mess at her feet, which Jim noted had spilled out of the box she must have been carrying and dropped when she saw him.
Feeling guilty, Jim dropped Mrs. Mop and scrambled to help her pick up the pieces of machinery that had been in her box. Once as they worked their hands touched ever so slightly. Jim refused to acknowledge the feelings bubbling up like a spring inside of him. He snatched his hand away and returned to where he dropped Mrs. Mop.
"I never..." Clarie started. Jim paused. She hitched the crate of parts higher on her hip. "I never forgot you, okay?"
"Okay." Jim replied, unable to move until he heard her sigh and her footsteps move away. Only then did he let the tears well up in his eyes.
From that point on, it was almost impossible to avoid running into each other. Jim saw Clarie at every meal; even though he wasn't looking, his eyes drifted over the sea of assorted alien heads to the familiar mess of brown waves. Sometimes she would be sitting alone, reading. Sometimes she would listen in to one of Silver's stories or tell jokes to the rest of the crew. Sometimes her eyes drifted to meet his, but always looked away hurriedly.
Jim tried not to get too involved, being with her brought up unwanted memories and feelings. He didn't purposefully avoid her, but he quickly noticed that she was making determined efforts to avoid him. If they were assigned to a job in the same area, she'd make herself busy elsewhere; if they passed in the halls, she'd avoid his eyes and move quickly out of his way.
Jim wasn't the only one who noticed; one day after their usual adventure in the long boat, Silver decided to bring it up.
"Jim, I been meaning ter ask ye."
Jim leaned back, putting his head behind his hands.
"What's yer relationship with the girl?"
Jim looked back at Silver, unable to hide his surprise.
Silver put his hat back on his head.
"I seen the way ye look at her... and the way she avoids looking at yer."
Jim leaned forward, leaking his elbows on his knees and looking at his feet over his clasped hands.
"It's a long story..." He sighed.
"I got time."
Jim sighed again and rubbed his face with his hands. Memories were bubbling to the surface in his mind much like boiling water, he was having a harder and harder time containing his emotions. It wouldn't hurt to talk to Silver, who was practically a father figure to him.
"We used to be together, you know? I mean, we've know each other since we were five. Our Dads were pilots together until mine ran off somewhere. My mom used to take care of us when they were gone, she practically lived with us."
Silver watched him carefully.
Jim fiddled with a piece of rope, winding it around his fingers.
"We... had a disagreement, went our separate ways. broke up, whatever." Jim said. "It doesn't really matter now, all we want to do is forget."
"You don't have ter listen ter an old meddler like me, but... Something's a'tellin' me it ain't over, whatever it is you two got." Silver said.
"I think it's damn well over. The sooner I can get away from her, the better." Jim snarled, kicking the side of the boat.
"That's harsh" Silver said, watching Jim run his hands through his hair in agitation.
"Yeah, well... that's the way it is." Jim said, wiping his eyes quickly before jumping out of the longboat and walking off.