Travel Day: 1
"You open it!"
"No way! I like my head where it is, thanks."
"Oh come on! They're probably still asleep!"
"What on earth are you two doing?" Zen asked. Ren and Toyo started, the former giving the other silverette a glare. Zen raised an eyebrow in her direction "Trying to spy on Crow and Seto again?"
Toyo at least looked sheepish for being pulled into this scheme. Ren huffed "Oh, like you weren't wondering how they were doing."
"Not really." Zen replied flatly. Ren continued glaring at him for a few seconds before she turned back towards the door that lead into the Captain's Quarters. The silver haired girl pressed her ear to the door.
She immediately jumped backwards when something hard banged into it from the other side.
Toyo laughed nervously "I think we woke the captain up…"
Travel Day: 3
"So…are you sort of like a psychic?" Toyo asked Seto at some late point in the day while he was on crow's nest duty. Seto had come up to visit since Ren and Crow were having an argument that pertained to stopping by Garnet on their way to his grandfather's house, and Zen was doing damage control. Toyo didn't mind though, he enjoyed the company.
"Huh?" Seto blinked at him, a bemused look on his face "What do you mean?"
"Like, can you read minds too? Or can you just see all those colors and guess?" Toyo asked curiously.
Seto frowned and shook his head "I-I don't really think so…I mean I might be able to, but I don't really know. I d-don't really know how it works myself…" The maroon haired boy explained with an apologetic smile. "I-I've just been seeing the fires for so long I just sort of know what they mean by now."
The red haired teen hummed thoughtfully "So…if you could read minds, you'd tell me right?"
"Even if I could I wouldn't tell you what Ren thinks of you, Toyo." Seto said in deadpan before laughing at the other boy's crestfallen look.
Toyo stuck his tongue out at the turquoise clad boy "Hmph! Fine! If that's the case I won't tell you a secret about Crow I was gonna share before you went all mean." The red haired boy stuck his tongue out childishly at his maroon haired friend before he jumped from his spot and began descending back down to the deck.
"H-Hey! That's not fair!"
Travel Day: 8
The night sky was clear and the ocean was calm, reflecting the stars on its surface. Up near the helm, Zen and Seto were sitting hand in hand much like they had the past few nights re-working the star chart so it would be more accurate. Crow wasn't a navigator after all and the chart as it was without Zen's corrections would lead them nowhere.
"I know you two were just going by eye when you made this but…" Zen let out an exasperated sigh "I wouldn't have thought you would be this off."
"How bad is it?" Seto asked, looking down from the sky to look at the paper laid out before them.
"All of Crow's coordinates are off by about twenty or so degrees heading southeast, and that's just from Merchant City it looks like." Zen answered, marking yet another correction on the blank star chart they'd brought up with them "Following this, it wouldn't surprise me if someone trying to follow it got completely turned around at some point."
Seto laughed nervously at the silver haired boy's serious tone, glancing back up at the sky and tracing the line of gray stars that they now seemed to be following west. "T-Then it's a good thing we weren't following it, huh?"
The boy next to him hummed a reply, only glancing up from the chart on his lap to look skywards for a few seconds before going back to work. It was a companionable silence that Seto had relaxed into days before when Zen had first asked him to help make a corrected version on the star chart. Crow had grudgingly agreed to the arrangement, but he gave them a curfew for how long they could be out at night. Well, that and…
"Is he still there?" Zen questioned him quietly, still not looking up from his work.
Seto craned his head to the side to look behind them at the stairs leading up to where they were. In his normal vision he couldn't see anything, but his left eye was easily seeing the large, familiar midnight purple flame that was tinged everywhere in green that belonged to a certain pirate captain. Said pirate captain had also been standing in that spot since they'd come up from the lower decks, and had been following that same routine for the past few nights now.
Seto almost sighed "Should we let him know we know he's there?" Seto whispered back, turning to glance at the silver haired pirate.
"Nah, let him simmer for a bit." Zen said, smirking in an unnerving way that reminded him somewhat of the person they were talking about "Crow has to learn someday that you're going to be around other people." Zen paused, and then added a bit louder, as if it was an afterthought, "Whether he likes it or not."
Zen was quiet again after that, only making comments about his captain's bad job on the chart and occasionally asking Seto questions about the stars. Sometime after he'd stopped speaking Seto found himself glancing back at where Crow had been standing, surprised to see that the pirate seemed to have left for the night.
Travel Day: 12
The port was lit by crude looking candles and lanterns, illuminating the smog of cigarette smoke and other various things that hung in the air like a fog. People poured out into the streets from taverns and bars; some alone, some with a girl or two on their arms, and some just on the verge of falling on their faces. Others who were not staggering out of bars were huddled close together, exchanging hushed whispers and sharp glances. All in all the port gave off a very unnerving, very creepy feel.
Seto immediately recognized it as the port they at stopped at some time ago after they'd left Ribon, where Crow had picked him up a crutch to use while his leg healed. Seto was once again not permitted to leave the boat while Crow went into the festering place, but since he was able to walk this time he'd made his way to the main deck to get a better look at it. The first thing he saw was a large, crudely carven sign proudly proclaiming the port as Bloodstone.
Seto shivered despite the warm temperature as he looked at the port from the safety of the ship and pulled his coat closer to himself. The place was literally crawling with vermin in his left eye. Stray dogs, small and large wandered about between people's fires while various birds pecked at the ground. Nothing like what Vulture had turned into back in Garnet, thankfully, but something in the back of his mind told him that just because he couldn't see it did not mean it wasn't there in the port somewhere. Seto shivered at the thought as another unsettling feeling came over him, as if he was being watched. The maroon haired boy looked around and caught a large dog with glowing yellow eyes staring at him. Seto blinked and found himself under the gaze of a tall, rough looking man with long, uneven chopped dark hair. His clothes were filthy and a few of the darker look stains looked almost…crusty, even from a distance.
The man gave him a crooked smile "He~ey cutie! What's a pretty girl like you doing up there?" The man gave a leer "You look lonely, beautiful, how about you join me down here?"
Seto shook his head furiously and backed away from the side of the boat.
When Crow came back later he found Seto sitting in their room with all of the windows shut and the curtains pulled closed.
"What's wrong?" The pirate asked, kneeling next to where the maroon haired sat on the bed.
"Th-There was a g-guy by the ship e-earlier when I was on deck…" Seto flinched slightly when Crow narrowed his eyes at him "…H-He was kinda scary…"
Crow gave a sigh, taking Seto's hand and gently running his gloved thumb over his skin. "That's why I told you to stay down here…did he say anything?" The pirate asked.
"H-He thought I was a girl and was t-trying to get me off the ship…and he was a dog! N-Not a real dog, b-b-but in the white vision he was…" Seto fumbled out.
Crow rolled his eyes slightly at the first explanation while also resisting the urge to go find that guy and pound his face in. And while he didn't quite know what it meant he knew that the man being a dog was serious, which did worry him a little.
He flashed Seto a grin "Well, don't you worry about him anymore. He comes anywhere near you and he'll have me to deal with." He stopped, leaning up and catching Seto's lips with his own. The maroon haired boy made a surprised noise, but he clumsily kissed the pirate back.
The moment was interrupted by a forced sounding cough at the door. Pulling away, Crow stood and glared at Ren and Zen who were standing in the door.
"We're ready to leave port…" Zen reported stoically, minus the undertone of amusement in his voice "If you're ready to, at least."
Seto blushed and stood up. Crow rolled his eyes "Yes, we're fine to leave." Crow said, waving his hand "Let's get out of this stingy place."
Travel Day: 17
If there was one thing that Seto had noticed about Sai since she had joined the crew, it was that she was significantly politer when she wasn't being chased or arrested. She got on well enough with the crew, and it seemed Ren was more or less happy to have another girl aboard the ship after the two of them got past their differences. Sai spent a lot of time discussing the aspects of the Moon Tribe's treasure with Zen, and he'd seen her and Toyo speaking in whispers more than a few times while casting unseen glances in a certain silver haired girl's direction. Crow was…tolerating her presence, which wasn't exactly an improvement, but wasn't exactly bad either. The cats didn't even seem to have a problem with her; as a matter of fact Hoshi seemed to love the eye patch wearing girl and was prone to sleeping on her lap.
Seto almost felt bad for suspecting her. It was hard to not feel unsettled around Sai when he had no idea what her motives or feelings were.
And he always caught her looking at him. He'd be talking to someone or just wandering around the ship and he'd turn and catch her eye. She'd look away and walk off. Seto honestly didn't know what to make of it.
"Why…why are you always looking at me, Sai?" It was afternoon, a little bit after lunch, and Seto had caught her watching him again. Zen had declined her invitation to go over lore because he had other work to do and Seto had managed to catch her before she went off with somebody.
She blinked at him curiously "I don't know what you mean."
Seto flushed slightly "W-Well…I mean, um, sometimes it looks like you're staring at me, a-and when I notice you look a-away."
"Oh…that." Sai shrugged "Sorry, didn't mean to creep you out or anything." She apologized "You're fascinating, that's all."
Catching the confused look on the maroon haired boy's face, she elaborated "What you can do, first of all, is fascinating on its own. And then there's your circumstances. You're probably the least fitting person to be on a pirate ship, but here you are and from what I've seen you can play the part well." Sai leaned forward to look him in the eyes, and instinctively he took a step back "It's all very odd, I can't help but be a bit curious about you." She finished, giving a small smile before she walked off.
Seto stared after her for a bit, not sure how he should take that revelation. Later that day, though, when Seto caught her looking at him again, it didn't worry him quite as much, though he wondered whether or not if that was an improvement.
Travel Day: 21
Ren refused to leave her quarters today. Her door was firmly locked and all of her windows were pulled shut and covered. It worried Seto to no end, but he understood the silver haired girl's actions. They were passing by Ribon today and even at the distance they were from the island Seto felt an ominous chill when he caught sight of the seven bell towers. The maroon haired boy kept having to remind himself that the…thing, woman, girl, monster that had nearly killed them was dead.
He reminded Ren, too, but it wasn't until much later that evening when the accursed island was falling away behind them that she left her room again.
Travel Day: 24
"Toyo, have you been wearing a hat or something?" Ren asked suddenly. Toyo gave her an odd look "Or have you been inside a lot?"
"No…" The red head answered slowly, feeling just a little bit suspicious "Why are you asking?"
"You're hair's darker than I remember it being." Ren replied promptly "And I read somewhere that if you're out of the sun or you keep your hair covered that happens."
The red haired boy laughed nervously "I think you're seeing things, Ren." He told her, earning a glare for his comment. He didn't pay it much mind and walked away, forcefully pulling Zen out of a conversation with Sai as he passed the two headed towards his cabin.
Later that evening as Seto was headed towards supper, he found himself being pulled into a room and the door shut behind him. He found himself looking up into a pair of blue, brown tinged eyes.
"Seto, how does my hair look?" Stepping back to an arm's length, Toyo looked at him expectantly.
Seto frowned "It looks like it always does." He answered. Honestly, Seto almost thought it looked brighter than normal.
The red haired boy's shoulders sagged in relief "Great. Thanks." He grinned "You ready to head to dinner, then?" He asked, pulling the door opening and walking out of the room with a hop in his step.
Seto watched after him for a few seconds, horribly confused, before his stomach growled. The maroon haired boy quickly followed after Toyo, and soon the odd event that had just occurred fell to the back of his mind.
Travel Day: 27
Crow had very quickly become accustomed to waking up in the middle of the night because of something Seto was doing in his sleep. The other boy moved around a lot and hogged the blankets some nights, while on other nights Crow would wake up to find the maroon haired boy curled up next to his side. Something else the pirate found out about Seto when he was asleep was that he was very nightmare prone, and Crow had long since settled into the role of comforting Seto after he woke up after he had that revelation.
This turned out to be a night for nightmares and not for adorable cuddling.
Crow awoke to Seto's normal tossing and turning, but he heard the faint whimpering that indicated that his friend was not sleeping as peacefully as he should have been. With a small sigh, Crow sat up and reached to light his bedside lamp. A yellow glow filled the room as Crow gently shook Seto awake.
The maroon haired boy awoke with a start, his eyes darting around as if he didn't quite know where he was. The moment his eyes landed on Crow, however, he seemed to relax and immediately wrapped his arms around the pirate in an almost desperate hug. Crow held him close, waiting until he felt Seto's heart quit ramming against his chest and for Seto to loosen his grip.
When he finally did, he pushed Seto back a little so he could look at the night shirt clad boy. "Bad dream?" He asked, redundantly because he already knew the answer, but asked anyways for Seto's sake. The boy in his arms nodded "Do you wanna talk about it?"
Seto was quiet for about a minute, probably getting his thoughts back in working order "I-I was in that c-cage again, the glass one. B-But then I wasn't, and there were p-people everywhere and f-fires everywhere, and fires were going out a-and people were on the ground, a-and-" Seto stopped suddenly, his voice catching in his throat. Crow pulled him back close, rubbing his back soothingly.
"Hey, hey, it's ok now. It was just a dream. It can't do anything to you." He whispered in Seto's ear reassuringly. He felt Seto nod into his chest, and heard him say something that ended up muffled against Crow's shirt. "What was that?"
"Wh-what if it wasn't a dream?" Seto asked again, louder this time.
Crow blinked "That seems really unlikely, Seto." He ruffled the maroon haired boy's hair gently "People don't just make gigantic glass cages, for one thing."
He felt Seto smile slightly at that. Pushing him back again, Crow placed a kiss on his forehead "Feeling better?"
"Mhm." Seto yawned. Crow rolled his eyes, leaning over and blowing his lamp out. He wrapped his arms around Seto and pulled him back down onto the bed. He didn't let go all night, and Seto went back to sleep soundly.
Travel Day: 32
"What do you think that means, anyways?" Zen asked, his voice thoughtful as he leaned over the array of literature before him on the table. "An inland sea?"
"Maybe it's a clue?" Sai suggested, leaning back in the chair she had claimed for herself. They were currently in the chart room and all around them items used for navigating the sea swayed with the motion of the waves or glinted in the setting sun's light.
"A location, maybe?" He mused with a frown. "The sea goes inland in dozens of places, though. It seems a bit vague to be a hint of any sort."
"Riddle, maybe?" Sai asked, lacing her fingers behind her head as she looked out the window "You get anything else from that novel?"
Zen shook his head, the frown on his face quickly becoming an agitated one "Besides the title and the first paragraph, 'inland sea' doesn't show up anywhere else in the entire book. It's about a man who went with the Moon Tribe fleeing the hierarchy of the Moon and the kid he meets along the way. The first paragraph is actually the end of the story-"
"Telling about when the kid dies." Sai interjected, causing the silver haired teen to glance at her sharply "I read the book too, you know. He dies when the people who want all the treasure back with the hierarchy invade and the last thing the main character guy does before they get him too is bury his friend somewhere where he can see the sky."
Silence stretched between them for a time. And Sai, wondering what the cause of it was, turned her attention to the boy curiously. He had a faraway, almost glossed look in his eyes "Zen?"
Mahogany colored eyes blinked, losing their glossed appearance as their owner came back to his senses. "Sorry about that, I was just thinking." Zen said with a small shake to clear his head "You know, when I first told Seto about the legend of the Moon Tribe he got really upset over it. I think I know a bit better now that his reaction might have been warranted."
Curious as ever about the sudden change in topic, Sai leaned forward resting her elbows on her knees "Why do you say that?"
"No reason, really. I think I understand in a roundabout way why he reacted." Zen explained, holding up 'The Inland Sea' with its cover facing the one eyed girl "If my theory about Seto is correct, then he was upset hearing the legend because at some level he's emotionally attached to it. He probably wouldn't fair all that well if he read this. I gave myself a headache reading it."
Sai let out a small laugh at that comment "You gave yourself a headache?" She asked.
Zen rolled his eyes at her amused tone "The story irritated me." He admitted with a small sigh "Just thinking of the number of people who were probably killed over that treasure unnerves me, and the amount of greed that the hierarchy on the Moon seemed to be consumed by disgusts me. I'm sure there was a way they could have compromised and not lost needless lives."
Sai looked quietly at him for a few seconds, adopting a look that was very similar to the one she had on her face when they first spoke to each other.
"You're staring, again." He clarified.
And once again Sai gave him a sort of odd, enigmatic smile. "Sorry, you're just so serious for a kid. It's kinda weird." She said standing up.
"You're only a few years older than me, quit calling me kid." Zen said pointedly, rolling his eyes.
Sai walked over to where he was seated and ruffled his hair before plucking the novel from his hand and setting it down "Respect your elders. Get out of this room for a bit and go play with your friends." And with that, Sai followed her own advice and left the chart room.
Zen sighed, setting his chin on the table and looking at all the materials scattered all over it. Maybe Sai was right, he decided, setting his cheek on the cool, wooden surface. Maybe he should take a break and go see what his friends were doing.
He could feel another headache coming on, anyways.
Travel Day: 35
Bells began ringing as they approached Garnet and Seto could hear them even though they were still a few miles from shore. It was early afternoon and the sea was sparkling as they sailed across it, the sun high and unobstructed in the clear blue sky. Seto could see people milling about the docks looking like they were in no hurry despite the warning bells and wondered if they recognized the ship or just didn't care. And though he couldn't really tell from this far out it seemed like the town had recovered from the fiasco last time the Black Wing's pirates had been in their port.
Beside him Crow leaned on the ship's railing, his big black cat jumping up to sit next to him. He was staring straight ahead at Garnet with a small frown on his face, no doubt also remembering what had happened last time he'd been in town. He'd seen similar looks on Toyo's and Zen's faces when it had been announced that they would be stopping in the small town for supplies and other such things and it crossed his mind that even though they hadn't run into the pair, Zen and Toyo most likely helped raid Garnet under Vulture's orders.
Ren was excited though, and that seemed to bring up their moods.
Seto reached over and took a hold of Crow's hand. The pirate started at the sudden contact, but he smiled over at Seto briefly before turning his attention back towards their destination.
"I have this unshakable feeling of déjà vu." He admitted with a small laugh. "Except this time instead of dodging a phony storm we're stopping by for a visit." Next to him the black cat knocked its head against his arm. It was almost as if it was trying to tell the purple pirate something. Whatever it was, though, went completely over Crow's head as he thought the cat was trying to get his attention. He scratched behind its ears absently, and if it was possible the cat looked indignant.
Seto smiled softly "That's not a bad thing though."
Crow nodded slightly, glancing at their entwined hands with a smile of his own. He didn't tell Seto what else he was thinking then; that it felt odd that he had sailed away from Garnet with a new, but cute, friend and they were returning together in love. It almost made him want to thank that stupid fleabag for getting them to dock in the town, but he ignored the temptation due to the fact that he was sure that Ren would hear about it somehow. Her uncanny ability to understand cats still threw him for a total loop.
By the time the ship made it to port later that evening the bells had quit tolling. Seto didn't really know why, but suspected that the townspeople themselves had something to do with it if the warm greeting they received when they docked was anything to go by. Fishermen and sailors that Seto vaguely recognized waved as they stepped off the ship and as they entered town they were met with welcoming looks and a few warm, shouted greetings. Seto couldn't help the smile that broke out onto his face as they made their way around town.
"First thing's first!" Ren said loudly, calling the attention of the rest of the group. The entire crew hadn't flooded into Garnet since they didn't want to cause a scare, but Toyo, Zen and even Sai had tagged along with the trio. The black cat, Batty and Hoshi had also departed the ship, but Seto had no idea where the felines had wandered off to. "I need to go check on my cats."
Toyo snorted "Seriously?" He asked incredulously. Ren stared at him with a serious expression and he signed in a resigned matter. "Of course you're serious, they're cats."
Zen gave his friend a sympathetic smile and patted him on the shoulder "I'm glad you're slowly learning." He teased lightly.
Toyo shot him an indignant look and shrugged him off "No one asked you." He shot back, rolling his eyes. Ignoring Zen, he looked over at Crow and Seto "You two coming with?" He asked.
Seto shook his head, and Crow replied "We're headed for the town square."
"You guys don't mind, do you?" Seto asked "I-I don't want you feeling left behind or anything."
Ren shook her head, a sly smile forming on her lips "No, no, you two go on." She insisted, walking over and gently pushing the couple in the right direction "Go and have fun. We'll meet back up at the shop later. You still remember how to get there, right?"
Seto nodded "Yup! I still remember the way, mostly anyways."
Ren shook her head at that and let out a sort of mock sigh "Geez, you're hopeless."
The maroon haired boy gave her an indignant look. Crow rolled his eyes at their antics and took hold Seto's hand, leading him off from the group "We'll me you guys back at the shop!" He called back at them.
"Have a good time, Captain!" Toyo teasingly called after them "Don't be too rough!" Zen slapped him over the head. The red head shot him a look, but his attention was quickly drawn away from his silver haired friend as he took note of the fourth member of their group. "Are you coming with us Sai?"
The dark haired girl shook her head "Nah, I've never been here. I was planning on walking around a little. Where's this shop of yours' at?" Sai asked.
"It depends on where you're at in town, but for the most part if you try heading towards the center and avoid taking left turns and stick to back alleys you'll stumble into it." Ren explained. "If you end up in the town square you've gone too far and probably took a left somewhere, so just keep to right turns."
"Got it…I think." Sai frowned, trying to understand the somewhat vague directions before giving up with a shrug. "Whatever, I'll keep an eye out for it. If I can't find it I'll just head back to the ship." She said flippantly, waving her hand as she turned to walk off.
"Well, and then there were three." Zen observed glancing at their little trio. He looked at Ren curiously "So, where are your cats at anyways?"
Ren turned on her heel and started walking, leaving Zen and Toyo only the option of blindly following after her. "The town fortune teller's been keeping an eye on them for me." She explained from ahead of them. There was a bounce in her step as she walked almost as if she was about to break out and start skipping towards their destination. The boys were almost sure they'd never seen her in such a good mood, ever, though Toyo mused he saw something a lot like it when he bought her that book on cats back in Merchant City.
And it was quite obvious that it was the cats that put her in such a good mood. As she led them through town down seemingly aimless pathways she talked about them; how they were, how much she was looking forward to seeing them, things she remembered from the last time she'd seen them…
"You really like cats." Toyo pointed out again as she went off on a tangent about a big, fluffy black and orange cat she had acquired, called a Cymric, and whether or not it had had its kittens yet.
Ren stopped walking and blinked at him, as if breaking out of a daze. It seemed like she had gotten lost in her own excited rambling. "You've said that before." She told him with a frown "Why do you point out the obvious so much?"
Toyo shrugged "I'm just curious why you like them so much." Ren opened her mouth to tell him that she had answered that question before, but he cut her off with- "I mean, I understand you liking 'em and all that, lots of people like cats obviously, but you're kinda extreme about it." Toyo looked at her earnestly "Why is that?"
Ren glared at him steadily for a few seconds before she turned around and started walking again "Why do you always ask such stupid questions?" She snapped "Really Zen, how do you put up with him?"
Zen held his hands up defensively "Please do not get me involved in your lovers' spat."
Ren whirled on him red faced, though whether it was from anger or embarrassment the silver haired pirate hadn't the faintest clue. "This is not a lovers' spat!" The silver haired girl crossed her arms, grumbling viciously under her breath as she led them around a corner.
Toyo snickered near silently behind her. Zen rolled his eyes at both of them. "Since when were you so observant of other people?" He asked quietly, trying to not attract the attention and wrath of their guide.
Toyo looked at him in disbelief "For one, I've always been observant, Zen." He pointed out quietly in a half hearted, mock insulted tone "For two, it doesn't take a whole ton to notice she's sort of obsessive about cats."
The silver haired teen smirked, "Are you sure you just haven't been paying extra attention recently?"
Toyo's face flushed red and he sputtered "W-What!"
Zen laughed at his friend's reaction as Ren stopped a little farther ahead of them in front of a small, unassuming wooden building. Or shack, really, considering its size and the shape it was in. There were sheets hung in front of the windows where it appeared the glass had been smashed out and a nearly matching curtain was hanging in the door-less doorframe. The wood was splintered in a few places, scorched in others, and in a few spots you could tell where newer wood had been used to repair structural damage probably caused during the raid a few months ago. Toyo and Zen glanced at each other as Ren pushed the curtains back worriless and hesitantly they followed in behind her.
Almost instantly Ren was swarmed by dozens of different breeds of cats.
The two teen boys stood there dumbly as their silver haired friend cooed and smiled over the felines, giving each individual attention and seemingly conversing with them. Although they didn't quite understand what was being said by either party they did manage to catch that apparently the fortune teller who owned the shack they were was out in town. They lost the meaning of the conversation after that.
"She's being so…mellow." Zen observed quietly, sounding almost shocked.
"And she isn't screaming or yelling or anything…" Toyo added, sounding equally surprised and confused. He frowned and looked over at Zen "…I kinda wanna do something to piss her off to make sure it's still her over there."
Zen choked back a laugh, coughing into his hand as Ren shot them a mixed curious/suspicious look.
They stayed at the shop for about an hour and the fortune teller didn't return despite the fact that it was starting to get late. However Batty and Crow's black cat, Keir (Ren helpfully informed the two confused pirates) made an appearance and walked back with them to Ren's shop after a few long, heartfelt goodbyes and promises to come and visit again soon. The trip was surprisingly uneventful and with Ren as their guide they found their way to their destination easily.
The shop itself was in a much better state then it had been a few months ago. The glass in the windows had been replaced and walking inside, a familiar bell jingled. Ren stood stock still, looking over her shop. New tables were set up around the room with varying items set about. The items themselves seemed near worthless; a dog collar on one table, a small pink baby sock on another, a broken milk bottle, and a dirty shoe were seen with just a cursory glance around. It seemed that after she'd left the people of Garnet had been rebuilding her shop to its former self, a place to look at odd things with no real intent to buy them.
Ren swiped at her eyes, rubbing them as she felt them start to water. She forced herself to not pay attention to the shop, but to the more pressing (and somewhat amusing) fact that the rest of the group had beaten them there.
Crow and Sai stood silently on opposite sides of the room with Seto standing somewhat helplessly in between the two with Hoshi by his feet playing with his pants leg. The atmosphere was so tense you could have cut through it with a knife.
"Hey! You guys have fun in town?" Not that Toyo noticed, of course.
Seto looked immediately relieved when they showed up and nodded at the red head's question "Yeah, it was nice. How were the cats?" He asked.
Ren beamed "They're all happy. They missed me though. And they really missed your cooking. When did you all get here?"
"Crow and I just got here a little bit ago." Seto said, casting a small glance in the quiet pirate's direction.
"I got here a little before these two." Sai chimed in, inclining her head towards the small fluff ball on the floor "The cat was here when I got here."
Ren hummed in reply, walking over and gently picking up Hoshi. Her look quickly changed to a worried one. "That's weird…" she mumbled.
"What?" Zen asked as he joined her.
"I don't think Hoshi's gotten any bigger since I found it." Ren stated, gently rubbing the kitten's back with her thumb "It was about this size when I found it, and that was awhile ago."
"That's bad, isn't it?" Crow finally spoke up, not moving from where he was but watching from where he stood "Don't cats grow pretty fast?"
"Yes. With all that's been going on I haven't really been keeping an eye on Hoshi so I guess I didn't notice." Ren frowned "It should definitely be bigger though."
"Can't you just ask it what's up?" Crow asked.
Ren shook her head "No, I've tried, but it's still too young. It's like talking to a baby, all I hear is gibberish." Ren explained, setting the small feline down. Almost immediately after its feet touched the ground it scampered over to where Sai stood and started playing with one of her loose, low hanging bandages.
"Well, maybe it's because it's like Seto." Crow said, shooting the pair a look as Sai tried to get the small feline to leave her bandages alone "I mean, it isn't like that little ball of fluff was normal to begin with. Maybe it doesn't grow like a normal cat?"
Ren hummed, thinking that theory over and thinking back to what Crow and Seto had told them. Since the revelation of Seto's ability they'd been informed about the numerous exploits behind the scenes that they weren't capable of seeing, including Hoshi's gray fire and the act of biting Vulture's arm off when he'd been holding the kitten hostage. They were somewhat wary of the kitten after hearing that, but it was really difficult to stay apprehensive about a kitten.
"But Seto grew." Ren pointed out "He got older and he matured. The kitten hasn't changed at all…"
"It is sort of strange…" Seto agreed with a nod.
Sai sighed loudly from her spot across the room, catching everyone's attention "Is there really any point in talking about this?" She asked, picking up the topic of conversation and petting the kitten's head "Isn't it obvious? We're not going to figure out anything about the cat until we figure out more about Seto."
Zen frowned at her, "That may be true, Sai, but if we found out things about the cat, wouldn't that help lead us to more answers about Seto?"
"That seems pretty obvious too." Crow commented with a roll of his eyes.
The dark haired girl shot him a glare, but ignored him and answered Zen. "I agree with you on that, but don't you also agree that they're both too complicated right now for us to be able to find an answer? Throwing around random guesses like this isn't going to solve a thing."
The silver haired boy frowned at her response. After thinking for a few seconds he gave a slow nod. "True enough. But having guesses is better than not having anything to go on at all regardless if it solves anything."
Sai huffed, irritated, "Fine, whatever, waste your time." She said with a wave of her hand gesturing them to continue. The eye patch wearing girl hoisted herself up onto the table closest to her, jostling some of the items on it. Silence filled the shop as no one was quite sure how to restart the discussion after that exchange. Sai's watchful eye was watching them patiently, waiting for them to continue which made it even more difficult.
"M-Maybe we should save this for when it isn't so late." Seto suggested, trying to diffuse the situation "We've got a lot of time to talk about it, we don't have to figure everything out all at once…"
As if on cue, Toyo let out a very loud yawn. The red head stretched his arms above his head "Yeah, let's tuck in for the night." He agreed. Looking at Ren, he asked "You have space for us here, or should we head back to the ship for the night?"
"I think I've got enough room." Ren said after a pause "Sai and I can have the couches in the back room, and the boys can all sleep in Seto's old room."
Everyone in the room nodded at the arrangements. Since everyone was in agreement, Ren led them deeper into the store, only hesitating a moment before entering the sitting room. It too was fixed up like the front of the shop; the shelving was all put back in place, the carpets had been replaced, and the broken furniture all repaired. Almost undoubtedly under the carpets were bloodstains that refused to come out of the wood, but the silver haired girl was in no mood to find out.
Seto caught her eye and gave her a soft, encouraging look before he walked ahead, leading the other boys towards his room so the girls could get some sleep.
The night passed quietly, minus the shenanigans that occurred in Seto's room.
Travel Day: 36
"Seto, what's the port closest to your old man's house?" Crow asked as they set off from Garnet.
"Hmm, I think Topaz." Seto answered after a moment of thought. Crow visibly relaxed and the maroon haired boy looked at him curiously "Why?"
Crow scratched at the back of his head and cracked a small smile "I was worried you were gonna say Lapis." He told the other boy "We kinda aren't too welcome there still."
Seto rolled his eyes at the purple clad pirate "I know, I remember. They were still cleaning up when I passed through there last, you know." He pointed out.
Crow grinned at that.
Travel Day: 42
Crow felt uneasy. He'd looked all over the ship nearly, and he couldn't find Seto anywhere. He hadn't seen the maroon haired boy since earlier that afternoon and while he knew nothing could happen to Seto while he was on Crow's ship, he still didn't like not knowing where he was. The fact that he hadn't seen Sai around today just made him worry all the more. The Trouble Making Trio (as he had mentally started calling Ren, Zen, and Toyo) hadn't seen hide nor hair nor ridiculously colored jacket of the two of them either.
The pirate captain sighed, deciding to try the lower decks where their supplies were stored. He knew Seto didn't generally come down here since he didn't have a reason to, but it was one of the only places he hadn't checked yet on the ship. Almost immediately as he descended into the lower decks of the Black Wing's ship, he caught the smell of something that was either burnt, or burning. Crow quickened his pace down the stairs slightly panicked. Was his ship on fire?
Once he'd arrived at the base of the stairs the burning smell was stronger, but there was no smoke from what he could see. Bemused, the pirate made his way gingerly around stacks of crates and bunches of barrels that made walking around down there almost like going through a maze. It didn't help that it was dim down there, and even though his eyes adjusted rather quickly it was hard to not bump into things.
Ahead of him it got a little brighter, a blue sort of light casting wild shadows on the hull of the ship. And then suddenly, the light was out.
"Hey! Why did you do that?" Crow blinked. Seto?
"Well if we keep it lit, you can't really practice can you?" Crow struggled for a few seconds trying to place a name with that voice, but he was almost half sure that it belonged to Sai.
He heard Seto huff in the darkness, but the conversation had apparently come to a stop. Crow frowned, sneaking closer to where he'd seen the odd blue light and heard the voices. Was this where Seto had been the entire time? What was he doing? And most importantly, why was Sai with him? The pirate bristled slightly, coming to a stop as the light came on again this time much brighter.
"AH!" He heard Seto cry out. That was really all the incentive Crow needed to rush out of his place in the shadows and into view.
"What is going on here?" He asked sharply.
Both Sai and Seto jumped, the slightly shocked looks on their faces lit up by a candle burning a blue flame in between them.
"C-Crow..!" Crow watched with a raised eyebrow as Seto continued opening and closing his mouth after that little exclamation, as if he was trying to find the words to answer. Crow glanced briefly over at Sai, who was sitting cool and collected now that the shock of Crow's sudden appearance had worn off. She seemed quite content to let Seto attempt to answer his question. The pirate rolled his eyes and decided that while his friend tried to find a way to connect words into a sentence, he look at what they had been up to.
The floor between the two was covered with scorch marks, candle wax, and the apparent remains of a few used up candles. The one that was lit between them seemed to be already half used up and the blue flame on top was making wax dribble down the sides.
"Did you light that?" Crow asked, indicating the candle with a tilt of his head. Seto closed his mouth and a hesitated for a second before he nodded.
"I-I was practicing how to control my flames." He explained "Sai said it would be a good idea in case something ever happened and you guys weren't there to help. Since I can't really control them w-we were starting small…"
"…By hiding down here and lighting candles." Crow finished, sighing slight. He pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head "And you didn't think to tell me?" He asked, looking up and looking into Seto's eyes "I didn't know where you were at, you had me worried."
"Where was he going to go? Out of town?" Crow quit gazing at Seto long enough to shoot Sai and a glare. The woman just smiled a little and stood up, brushing off her legs "I think that's enough for today. I'll let you two have your moment." She said with a wave of her hand, ignoring their respective reactions (Seto's embarrassment and Crow rolling his eyes).
She paused at the foot of the stairs and turned back to look the way she'd come. She saw a pair of shadows quite close together before the candle was seemingly blown out.
Travel Day: 48
They were passing the Lapis Navy Port, and Crow had been sure to make sure they were keeping a safe distance from the navy base. The entire ship seemed tense as they sailed past even though all of the ships appeared to be docked.
Despite the tension, when Seto looked over at Crow, he found the pirate grinning a little bit.
Travel Day: 53
"Finally." Toyo commented, watching as the ship slowly grew closer to port in Topaz. He turned to glance incredulously at Seto "It took forever to sail this far, how'd you even make it to Garnet on foot?"
Seto laughed a little. "I don't know, luck, I guess?" He answered, leaning on the rail to look out at their destination. "We still gotta walk to the house yet."
Toyo's face fell a little at that. "I thought you said it was in Topaz?"
"I said it was close to Topaz." The maroon haired boy corrected "My grandfather wasn't a really social person. He lived pretty isolated away from everyone. His house is a ways away from town."
Toyo sighed "And we're going to have to walk?" He grumbled, letting his shoulders sag in a dramatic fashion. Seto just laughed at him again.
"Hey, you two!" Toyo and Seto turned. Zen was standing there with his arms crossed and looked like he was about to start lecturing them. "Go and get your stuff around. We're making port in a few hours and I don't want you rushing around last minute and forgetting something."
Zen walked off after that, presumably to take his own advice Seto assumed. Toyo rolled his eyes.
"Like it's going to take us a few hours to do that?"
First order of business! Wow, the site got a face lift.
Second order of business! Hi, I'm alive. The story is also alive! You have my normal apologies for my laziness (and on a filler chapter at that, shame on me). This has actually been sitting near complete for awhile, but I started procrastinating around day 35...
Anyways! Wow, this was long filler. But it does several things. It sets up sort of a time frame for approximately the amount of time the story has been taking place, it gives reminders of important plot things and foreshadows stuff, and it gives Toyo and Zen eye colors. Which isn't incredibly important right now, but when I noticed it bothered me since it'll come up later.
Anyways! I don't have much to say on this one, besides that I don't like the set up much. I can promise that the next chapter will definitely not take near as long as this one did, though.
Thanks to everyone who read last chapter, and thanks to everyone who also reviewed! As usual reviews are loved, and helpful criticisms are always appreciated.
Until we meet again~