A/N: Hey, guys! Wow, it's been a while. Too long for my liking, to be honest, but life will do that to you. Anyway, I'm excited to finally be posting this sucker. I've been planning this sequel for quite some time now, believe it or not, so it's exciting to finally be able to start sharing this with you guys, albeit a little nerve racking. That being said, I hope you like the first chapter of the sequel to "My Captain." Enjoy!
Side Note: The site is no longer permitting me to use my usual "-" as scene breakers, so a scene change will now be represented with -MV- for "My Voyage."
Disclaimer: I own a very large nothing.
"My, my, my it's a beautiful world. I like swimming in the sea. I like to go out beyond the white breakers, where a man can still be free (or a woman if you are one). I like swimming in the sea. …And still this emptiness persists. Perhaps this is as good as it gets."
-Beautiful World, by Colin Hay-
If ever one were out at sea and found themselves sick (a common occurrence, unfortunately) pirate and sailor alike would surely seek the help of a reliable physician, if they weren't fortunate enough to have found one before leaving port. And if fate, the turn of the tides, or whatever deity said patient believed in, happened to take pity on their current state of vulnerability, they would surely guide their vessel to a small town in which a legend now resided; a legend that had not been seen or heard of in just a little over a year. Of course, if one were a mere listener of the tale, they probably would not recognize him; his coat and tricorn hat having been replaced with what most would consider a much more professional looking garb.
Now let's say that same twist of fate had been kind enough to get them the treatment that they so desperately needed. They, in turn, would undoubtedly feel better enough to walk around the town in which they now took residence.
If said patient were to venture away from the physician's place of work, follow the path before them, take a right at the market place, and follow the next path given down a series of humble looking abodes, then they would eventually come upon a house not too far from the building in which they'd just emerged.
They'd never get inside, of course. The physician was strict about keeping his door locked at all times, as was his protégé, who rumor had it had been kidnapped by pirates some time ago. Well, no wonder they wanted it locked! Such good citizens would never run the risk of being kidnapped by pirates, of all people…
Of course, if they had been allowed inside, they would have come across a comfortable little house that had more than enough space for two. And if they had passed the two bedrooms and the neatly kept kitchen that followed, they would have walked into a living room lined with books, a few well cushioned chairs, and a fire place in its center.
And here is where they would have met Jonathan Michael Dorian.
The thirteen year old brunet sat in front of the fireplace, ignoring the slight sting in the back of his eyes as he waited for his father to come home.
Jonathan sighed. He couldn't pinpoint exactly when he started referring to Capt – Doctor Percival as such, but he was wise enough to call him that only in the confines of his own head. He honestly didn't know how the older man would react if he ever chose to refer to him as his father out loud, but he didn't want to risk it. Maybe he would have attempted to by now if the former pirate didn't have a real son, and while he in no way resented him for that, it was still a fact that made him uneasy in terms of calling Percival what he really wanted to call him.
John tried to stop himself from yawning, but was a second too late. His mouth widened, begging him for the sleep he so desperately needed.
Deciding to cave in just a little, the teenage boy abandoned the book he'd been reading to lie on his back; brown, tired eyes gazing up at the décor that hung delicately over the fireplace.
A painting that he and the older man had decided to keep for themselves rather than hang up in their waiting room stared down at him. It was amazing how Ben's artwork still managed to shine even in their dimly lit living room, and while looking at it still made his heart twinge, both he and his mentor were in agreement that it was better to have it up than not have it at all.
While his eyes still fought to stay open, John's gaze shifted to what hung right below the first mate's painting; their lean, carefully made design hanging horizontally in their individual places.
Right below Ben's painting hung Jonathan's old sword, and right below his, the Captain's. Percival kept them there for what he claimed was self defense; that they should be close by if ever they were robbed. It was a valid point, but he never mentioned wanting them there for the memory of the sea. So after quietly catching his father staring at them late at night – after witnessing his calloused fingers graze over the steel in quiet contemplation at least three times since settling down – John just couldn't help but wonder: Was self defense his only real reason for keeping them there?
Not that he was complaining. He too had a tendency to look at them with admiration. There were even a couple of times, when the older man wasn't home, where he'd take his sword off of its shelf and give it a few good swings, for old time's sake. It had surprised him the first time; the desire to feel the hilt of his sword wrapped securely in the palm of his hand. While he truly treasured the gift Percival had purchased for him all that time ago, it was still a weapon in which he had shed blood. It was still a weapon in which he hoped to never use again; at least not in a battle like the one he'd experienced with Ben…Yet, when he had given into his desire and held it for the first time after months of living in their new home, he had been filled with a sense of bittersweet nostalgia. Maybe it didn't help that he'd been wearing his tricorn hat (the same hat that currently hung on his bedpost, untouched for at least three months now) but he'd been hit all at once with an immense longing for his former life. The smell of the sea filled his nose, the crisp, ocean air caressed his skin, and when he licked his lips, he could have sworn he tasted salt from the spray of the goddess herself. Of course, he knew it was all in his head; knew that he had only just succumbed to another one of his fantasies, but it had surprised him all the same; this sudden longing for the same sea in which he'd almost drowned; the same sea, the same atmosphere, in which both he and the Captain had been more than ready to leave behind.
Upon further contemplation, it didn't surprise John too much that he missed his life as a pirate. It was where he first met the Captain. It was where he first met what he still considered his family – the crew of the Sacred Heart – and it was where he first experienced so many different things that eventually led him to where he was now. It was a good thing, of course: where he was now. There was no question concerning both his gratitude and happiness when it came to living with Percival; the immense appreciation he felt for being able to work under his care alongside the crew he'd come to know and love. He put his desire for the sea under the category of his youth, figuring it'd go away over time. He labeled it as a connection to all those he cared for; all the new things he experienced with them. Because of those memories, it wasn't really too surprising that, every now and then, he craved that life once more.
But Doctor Percival?
He hadn't expected that at all, which may've explained why he never actually brought up catching the former pirate reflecting on his sword with a certain look in his eyes. John had hidden himself behind the wall that led to their living room, watching in silence. It had surprised him to find the older man there the first time as it was, but for a second and third? He thought that Percival, of all people, would be more than glad to finally rid himself of that life; the life he'd been sentenced to under a false accusation. An accusation that caused him to lose his wife, his son, and eventually, his best friend.
Yet the look in the older man's eyes had definitely matched his own.
Jonathan sighed, doing his best to ignore how his vision was becoming fuzzier; both the swords and the painting becoming harder and harder to see. Where was Doctor Percival? Where was Captain Percival? Where was his father, and why wasn't he home?
When Jonathan next woke up, he was surprised to find himself tucked inside his bed. He'd meant to stay up long enough to ask his mentor how work went. As his protégé, he would have normally gone with him, but he was in the process of getting over a cold, and the older man didn't want him to infect his patients or be thrown into a relapse himself. At first, he thought the auburn haired doctor was worrying over nothing, but considering he practically passed out on his living room floor just hours ago, he decided that, like always, he probably made the right decision.
Upon getting up out of his bed, Jonathan's eyes fell first to his bedroom window, realizing at once that he should still be sleeping. The sun was only just coming up, so the sky was still significantly dark. After taking in how early it was, he was quick to notice a small note placed near the edge of his bedside table.
There's medicine on the kitchen table. Please take it when you wake up. Yes, I know it's vile, but the good news is that this should be the last time you have to swallow it down; at least for this particular illness, anyway.
P.S. – You're getting too heavy to carry, kid. Try falling asleep in your bed next time. Captain's orders.
Jonathan smiled fondly at the last line of his note, though the very same thing that made him smile also made him worry. "Captain's orders." When was the last time his mentor referred to himself as such? In the beginning, as a private joke between them, Jonathan would occasionally refer to him as his Captain, and Percival in turn would do the same; giving the young brunet orders the way he did in his note, but it'd been months since he last did that. What caused him to suddenly fall back on their old joke now?
Turning back to the window, Jonathan stuck the note in his pocket, deciding to forgo the darkened sky and look for Percival instead. Retreating from his bedroom, he paused momentarily at the doorway, deciding to turn back around and fetch what he hadn't worn in months.
Tricorn hat in place, the young brunet ran to the kitchen, swallowed down his medicine, then ran out of the house, though where he was running to, he really didn't know.
After checking their place of work, Jonathan was already at a loss as to where to look next. All of the places his mentor would usually go to were closed besides Sacred Heart and their house, so where on earth could he be?
Having abandoned his run into a steady walk, the brunet found himself straying over to the nearest dock. He hadn't planned on stopping – just wanted to be by the water for a second – but a familiar, neatly shaved head caught his attention. "Turk?" he asked quietly, not wanting to startle him.
His efforts went to waste as the surgeon jumped in surprise, turning around with widened eyes to stare at the person who called him. His posture relaxed instantly upon seeing his young friend, and Jonathan could have sworn his eyes flitted over his hat when a small, nostalgic smile crept across his face. "Hey, buddy," he finally said. "Sorry about that. You just startled me for a second."
"I should be the one apologizing then, right?" John answered with a smile. After a small moment of what the brunet interpreted to be awkward silence, he asked, "Do you mind if I sit with you for a little? I mean, I don't want to interrupt you if you're having a private moment."
"Of course you can join me, JD. You should know by now that you can talk to me whenever you want to; private moments included."
The former cabin boy smiled. Not just at what was said to him, but how he had been addressed. Turk was the only person from their crew who still called him by his nickname…
Walking towards the edge of the dock in silence, Jonathan sat himself down next to his friend, swinging his legs over the edge and dangling them above the water. Silence stretched before them until finally, Turk spoke.
"I miss her."
The young brunet nodded, his suspicion about his friend's early morning contemplation confirmed. "Has she replied to your last letter?"
"Yeah. She always does. And she always sounds happy to hear from me too, you know? But…I don't think she's ready to come here yet. I mean…I've been working hard; saving up to add on to my house; saving up to get her here. She doesn't know that, of course. I haven't told her. But just by the way she talks of her job, of that town… She's head waitress now, did I tell you?"
John nodded, remembering how Carla herself seemed excited at Laverne's offer from what felt like ages ago.
"That's the thing though, JD. I'm happy for her, and it sounds like she's happy for my accomplishments too, but I don't want to just keep on writing to her like this. I want us to be together. I want her here. But she loves that town. She loves that job and the people she works with, and I can't…I can't pull her away from that. It's her life, you know? Her life. It'd be…it'd be selfish to ask her to come. Besides, I…I don't even know how strong her feelings are…"
Without missing a beat, the young brunet answered. "Pretty strong."
Turk looked at him, surprised. "Really? But how do you know?"
"Because Carla's a really strong woman, at least that's the impression I got from her. I feel like, if she didn't have strong feelings for you, she wouldn't bother writing to you the way she's been. I don't think she'd have, um…have a lot of trouble finding someone, but at the same time, I don't think she's a girl who needs to find someone either. I just don't see her as the kind of person who would humor someone, especially someone interested in her. If she didn't have similar feelings, I think she'd let you know."
Turk nodded, a small smile spreading over his expression. "She is strong, isn't she? Really independent too… Maybe that's why I'm so attracted to her. Strong woman are so rare to come by. I mean…have you been to the high end of this town? The women there are like walking dolls. These porcelain beings void of life; void of identity! I feel bad for them, which makes me feel worse, because really…who am I to say how they should live? But sometimes, I just can't help it – I want to go over there and tear off one of their corsets; I want to see one of them breathe. Though I have a feeling people would misinterpret that little maneuver, huh…"
JD chuckled softly with his companion, but after a moment, the conversation continued.
"Carla though, she's…she's not like that. She's not like that at all. I think that's why I love her so much."
It was John's turn to look at him; blue eyes wide with surprise. He'd never heard Turk say he loved her before. Mouth open to ask when this new revelation came about, he was cut off by the surgeon's following comment. "Sometimes, I'm tempted to take the Sacred Heart and leave this place. Not forever, of course. Just long enough to see her; maybe try and convince her to come back with me, but despite what Doctor Percival thinks – sorry, buddy, but you know I still have a problem with him – I'm not a complete and utter idiot."
Suddenly, Jonathan was up on his feet. God, why didn't he think of that before!
"Huh? Oh, right… No, Turk, you're not an idiot; not at all, and I get…I get wanting to see her again, I do…" Images of a blue eyed waitress he knew he couldn't have filled his thoughts for a bittersweet moment, but he shooed them away. "I have to go now though, okay? We'll talk more tomorrow, I promise."
As Jonathan ran off, he heard Turk shout behind him. "Where are you going?"
Without turning around, the young brunet waved another goodbye before answering. "To see our Captain!"
The governor, upon first arriving at the Captain's old town, had asked the auburn haired doctor what he wanted done with the Sacred Heart. Instead of waiting for Percival's reply, he decided to continue on with a suggestion of his own: "We could tear it apart, you know; use the lumber for firewood."
The governor learned very early on not to say stupid things in front of Percival.
When asked why he wanted to hang on to a ship that would be of no use to anyone, the redeemed physician answered without pause. "Well, gentlemen, you never know when I'll be sentenced to a life of piracy under a false accusation. It'd be nice to have this waiting for me rather than having to steal yet another ship, don't you agree?"
The men had blushed before scurrying off into their separate directions, while the crew of the Sacred Heart went about docking the ship in peace.
It'd been quite a while since Jonathan last came to visit what was once his home, but the time in which he'd last stopped by didn't succeed in dampening his admiration for the vessel he gazed upon now.
What killed him, however, was the sudden realization that a ship could look so sad. The Sacred Heart stood motionless, her sails drawn down and tied. Her once strong structure seemed weakened somehow; broken. And when the occasional pull of the sea came to caress its underside, the ship would give out the tiniest of creaks as it pushed away, just a little, from the dock on which it was tied. But every time Jonathan watched, it would always get pulled back, its ties keeping her away from the sea that continued to call her name.
The more John stared, the more John watched, the more he couldn't help but wonder: Could ships cry?
What killed him even more, however, was the man who stood at its helm. No, not the man himself; the sight of Percival would never be able to do that to him, but the garb in which he now stood in made him tremble. All at once, his longing for the sea swelled into a desire that would make any boy less experienced fall to his knees and weep, but the brunet stood firm as he took in the sight of his mentor caressing the wheel he'd been deprived of for over a year now; both jacket and tricorn hat firmly in place.
He was tempted to run, for surely the older man would not take kindly to being spied on during such an intimate moment, but he was stopped from doing so, surprised that he was being questioned at all since the physician had yet to turn around.
"Did you take your medicine?"
He could've just said yes, he knew, but the words left him before he had time to stop himself; before he could even think of reconsidering. So natural was the response that flowed from his lips, even after all this time. "Aye, Captain."
Jonathan stiffened as Percival turned to look at him for the first time since his arrival, but the eyes that stared back at him weren't ones of annoyance. His eyebrows were furrowed, his blue-grey orbs contemplative, but whatever frustration was there wasn't aimed at him. After what felt to be several minutes of simply taking each other in, the older man spoke. "Redemption is good, but I'll tell you something there, kid, there's a sense of freedom that I'm lacking. I got used to it; that kind of liberation you get from being out at sea for so long. Now there were times where it sure as hell didn't feel liberating, I'll admit. Not when the whole reason for my being there was due to my damnation, but now that I've been cleared, I can't help but wonder: How would that life have been, that life of piracy, had the choice been a voluntary one? And I'm not talking about becoming the type of pirates we came across; the type of pirates like Robert and his stomach turning crew, but the kind of pirates we were. I guess it's a choice I never would have made in the long run, but it makes a man think…"
Jonathan stared at his idol, wide eyed. It'd been a long, long time since Percival talked like that; since he allowed himself to open up and be human, for once. It would have been a nice moment if his words hadn't left him feeling so sad.
Having turned his gaze to the dock beneath him, he was surprised to find the Captain staring at him upon looking back up. Or rather, no…not him. His hat. The tricorn hat he'd given him for his twelfth birthday.
"I'm guessing you're feeling about the same way over there, huh kid?"
JD shifted awkwardly, not quite knowing how to respond, but the Captain's reply to his own question answered that for him; his voice becoming closer as he made his way back onto the dock. "Guess we'll never know there, but that's life. The last thing we have time for is a pity party. Patients to see, illnesses to cure… And all be damned if I don't take pride in that, Newbie, because I can honestly say that I do. However, freedom doesn't come with that particular card, so we can either stand around and cry or take pride in the fact that we don't give a damn; that not having a hold of the sea doesn't hinder us from living a life that most would give their left arm to live. So c'mon, kid…let's go home."
Jonathan shoved another fork full of eggs into his mouth, allowing himself to savor the moment. His taste buds had been horribly off during his cold, and his throat hadn't permitted him to swallow much more than soup and oatmeal for the last week, making something as simple as eggs taste like a delicacy.
Too consumed with his breakfast, he missed the small grin Percival was shooting him while sipping at his coffee. What he didn't miss, however, was the sudden knocking at their door.
Both heads turned to the house's entrance at once, then back to each other, eyebrows creased. No one ever bothered them this early. Okay, maybe the occasional patient, but that was an acceptation. A person in need was always an acceptation, but even before Percival got up to answer the door, Jonathan knew that this was different…
Abandoning his first real meal in almost a week, the brunet stood up from the table, stopping at the entrance of their living room in order to peer in.
Jonathan grimaced at the familiar voice that boomed throughout their house, it's overly-cheerful tone irritating even to him.
Ever since Governor Corman made his remark about chopping the Sacred Heart into two, he'd been trying way too hard to make everything A-Okay with Percival. Granted, he may have had a lot to redeem himself for, what with him also being the man who damned Percival to a life of piracy…
"Governor Corman," Percival answered through gritted teeth. "Now what brings you to my house so early in the morning?"
The Governor had the decency to blush, realizing that he had only managed to add yet another act on his list of things to apologize for, but he cleared his throat and pressed on all the same. "We've encountered some trouble, Doctor, and it's looking as though you're the only one who can help us…"
JD watched as his mentor pinched the bridge of his nose. After a moment or two of silence, in which the former cabin boy knew he was counting backwards from ten, the older man straightened up promptly. Crossing his arms and flicking his nose, Percival nodded his head towards their living room, silently indicating for him to come in and take a seat.
"Much appreciated," he answered quietly, removing his hat as he crossed the threshold.
John, who was deciding on whether or not to stay for the conversation or make an escape to his bedroom, was quickly interrupted by that same, boisterous voice.
"Johnny Boy! How good it is to see you again!"
JD visibly winced at the nickname, while Percival held back a snicker. "Hello, Governor Corman…"
Trying not to bite the hand that was currently ruffling his hair – that's my father's job, thank you very much – Jonathan combed a hand through his locks once the man's back was turned to him. Silently looking towards his mentor, the older man nodded, letting him know that it was more than okay if he chose to stick around. Not wanting to be in the same room with the Governor, but curious as to why he was there, the brunet chose to stay.
After seating himself next to his father, the Governor across from them both, JD shifted awkwardly in his seat, waiting for one of them to say something. Percival, of course, was the first to break the silence.
"Governor Corman: You should know by now that I'm not one for beating around the bush, so how about you do me and my protégé here a favor by letting us in on why you interrupted us from breakfast. I seem to recall you mentioning something about a bit of trouble only I could handle. Which, of course, doesn't surprise me in the slightest, but I would suggest letting me in on what exactly this trouble entails. I can't fix what I don't know is broken now, can I?"
"No…no, of course you can't… The thing is…this isn't exactly in your line of work. Or rather…this isn't in your current line of work…"
The older man raised an eyebrow, though the rest of his body remained still. "And by that, you mean…?"
"Doctor Percival… There's trouble out at sea. Big trouble. We've been receiving numerous reports about a crew of pirates who have been robbing towns blind."
The auburn haired doctor almost laughed. "Pirates who steal things. Shocking. Terribly shocking. No wonder you're all a flutter."
Governor Corman rolled his eyes before pressing forward. "There's more, Doctor, rest assured. These pirates…they're not…they're not normal. According to the numerous letters we've received so far, they leave no trace of themselves; no destruction in their wake."
"No deaths?" Percival interrupted.
A nod. "None. There's never a sign of them coming either. They just…do. One minute, a town goes to sleep, mind at rest, and then the next minute, they wake up with nothing to their name. These pirates have been robbing these people blind, Doctor. So much so that they've already been called, 'The Ghost Ship.' There and gone in a blink of an eye. Unseen; undetected. It's…unsettling."
Jonathan turned his head to get a read on his mentor's expression. The tale was an interesting one at best, but concerning…?
"It sounds like they're an impressive bunch, I'll admit, but I don't get why this particular brand of pirate seems to be causing you and the rest of the world what appears to be an unnecessary amount of grief. Seems like, if you're going to get pillaged by cut throats, this is the crew to get pillaged by. Pirates who steal without killing? Who take what they want without death? Unnerving, maybe, to go to sleep and be robbed blind, but you must admit that pirates who give a damn about life are a rarity. I'm not saying we were the only ones out there who did, but we were a small group, Governor, that much is certain. If anything, I would consider these men the least dangerous of them all. Stolen jewels won't kill a man –"
"But stolen food will."
Percival's eyes narrowed instantly. "Come again?"
"They don't just steal the town's gold, Doctor. They steal everything. Jewels, food, medicine – everything. Having your town wiped clean of all necessary provisions would be hard enough by itself, but when you're also wiped clean of the money in which you'd be able to recover from such a tragedy, then what do you do? You rot, Doctor, which is exactly what these people have been doing. This crew may not kill these towns directly, but the truth is that they might as well. These people; these targets…they've sent us letters for help; letters of warning, and it's time we take them seriously."
"And by 'we' you mean…"
Governor Corman shifted uneasily in his seat, the tips of his fingers fiddling nervously with the brim of his hat. "I know I have no right to ask this of you and your people, but Doctor…I don't know who else to turn to in this situation. I can't just sit by knowing these towns are withering away the way they are. And I've tried, Doctor, I've tried. I sent my people months ago, but the Navy comes back empty handed each and every time. No news, no evidence, no nothing. These pirates, as I stated earlier, are untraceable. You're the only person I can turn to, Doctor. The only one."
It was a moment before Percival next spoke, but when he did, his voice was low and steady; his tone unquestionably thoughtful. "My patients, Governor Corman…"
"I do not expect you to take all of your employees, at least not the ones who were never a part of your crew. I know you're the best doctor, I won't deny that, but I can no longer deny the possibility of this crew robbing our town blind either, medicine included, and if that happens…if that happens, it won't matter if you're here or not; not when we have no medicine; not when we – you – don't even have the ingredients to make more. They'll be gone, Doctor. If they come here, everything will be gone…"
The silence that followed seemed to stretch on forever, while Jonathan's heart pounded wildly beneath his chest. He knew what he wanted Percival to say. He knew how he wanted him to respond. Despite the obvious risks, despite the undeniable dangers, he knew what he wanted to do. Still, he dared not say it out loud. Not when so much was hanging on the balance. Not when it felt as though a single wrong breath could shatter everything that lay before them; the good and the bad.
So when a small, unwavering grin broke out onto the Captain's face – a grin that seemed to frighten the Governor but enlighten the boy who watched on – the used to be cabin boy just couldn't help but smile.
"Well, Jonathan," Percival started up suddenly, turning to look at him for the first time since they sat down. "It looks like you're going to be wearing that hat of yours a lot more often there. Captain's orders."
A/N: Just in case anybody was wondering, this story isn't going to be science fiction. I know it could probably be interpreted that way since the ship is being referred to as 'The Ghost Ship,' but I promise this story will not involve a ship full of ghost pirates, or rather, a poorly done knock off of "Pirates of the Caribbean." lol On a slightly random note, the lyrics I chose for the beginning of this chapter are slightly out of order. The line, "And still this emptiness persists. Perhaps this is as good as it gets," actually comes later in the song, but it went so well with the beginning to all of this, so I squeezed it in there. ;) Anyway, I hope this first chapter managed to capture your interest some. Feel free to tell me if I've gone a little crazy, though. lol Until then!