"Miss Abigail F. Jones...the captain awaits you."
It was too soon. Much too soon. Abigail wasn't ready; her mind panicked in a state of near-denial, even as she hesitantly nodded and stood to her feet anyway, straightening the soft-blue, nearly translucent evening gown that had been given to her earlier. She took a quiet breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Now step forward. She made sure to meet eyes with her escort-the short man named Kiku that she had met earlier-in order to silently tell him, 'No, am I not afraid of whatever may come.'
And although not quite sure the message had got across, he seemed to respect her for some reason at least a little more, anyway, reaching out his bended arm for her to take (a rather gentlemanly action; Abigail found herself subconsciously relieved at its presence). Then together, once her hand was in the crook of his arm, they left the room.
Abigail swallowed as soon as they were out in the hallway. There was no one to be seen, she saw; only the intervals of dimly-lit candles mounted on the walls watched the pair as they walked, twinkling at them in bright wishes. Hoping for the best. Abigail found herself clinging to what hope she had left, too, gripping Kiku's arm just a bit tighter as she desperately and mentally prayed that somehow, things would go according to what half-brained scheme she had frying itself to burnt crisps in her mind.
Love him, love him. It was the strangest mantra she had ever thought to herself in all of her life of nineteen years. Swallowing down the instinctive repulsion at the oddity, Abigail closed her eyes briefly. Do what would be best for him, as if you really did care about his well-being.
It was so against every rule in the book of human nature; so opposite to how the woman had led her life previously, that Abigail knew she would be thought insane by her friends back home should they have ever heard of her plan. It was upside-down; silly; perhaps even stupid! Perhaps Abigail was stupid; stupid for even considering the possibility that it might work. For even trying it. For toying with it. Giving it a legitimate shot.
And even throwing her entire lot onto the slim prayer that it somehow worked.
Before she knew it, there they were, suddenly outside on the deck of the Nascardi-the sound of the ocean's beautiful, hushing waves reached her ears, one of the sole sources of comfort in the heavy dark of night for the poor brunette.
And there, too, it was-the door to the captain's room. Kiku said nothing to her as he reached forward to open the door, but before his hand even touched the doorknob, he felt a sudden hand upon his own, holding it in place. Keeping it from doing what it was supposed to. Surprised, and on the alert in case of a sudden assault, his hazy brown eyes flickered towards the captain's new prize, watching her warily.
But he saw only apprehension and nervousness, and to that, he had to relax. The girl meant no harm. She was only frightened, although she probably was the type to never say it.
The woman's lips were moving even before he got the chance to utter a well-rehearsed line of comfort he had used many times previously. "You, uh...know him pretty well?" Her tone was one of curiosity, even if the sudden tongue that licked her dry lips betrayed her show of nonchalance. Kiku repressed a smirk, although the corner of his mouth twitched. She was a very pretty, and seemingly friendly young lady indeed; the captain was a lucky man, there was no doubt.
"Somewhat," he muttered to her. "The captain likes to keep to himself most of the time. Although I would say we are good friends, yes."
Abigail nodded, inhaling deeply. Trying to calm her nerves. And also, subconsciously, trying to stall time. "That...that's good. Yeah." She nodded again, and inwardly kicked herself for that redundancy. "All crews should know their captain pretty well, huh?"
For some reason, that seemed to amuse Kiku. His dark eyes twinkled with sudden humor, as if she had cracked a joke. He pressed his pale lips together in a thin line, nodding and turning away from her, back to the door. "Perhaps...some more than others. In a roundabout way." He sent her one last semi-smile, before reaching forward for the door again. He grabbed the handle, and then paused, turning to the young woman who still clung to his arm like a lifeline. "Now...I shall not keep you from the captain any longer. He would not like that. So are you ready, Miss Abigail?"
Another deep breath. Abigail nodded, although that betrayed the violent protests her heart was making against her ribcage. "Yeah...I suppose."
Kiku returned the nod, and then the door was open, revealing the dimly lit interior, full of warm colors and softly lit candles. A romantic atmosphere. Huh. How quaint. Abigail couldn't find it in herself to like the situation any better, however...
The Cipangun gave her a gentle shove forward, into the room, and then the door was shut. Just as quickly as it had been opened, and with just the same air of finality. With that quiet slam, her doom was sealed-just as it had been for all the other countless prisoners before her of the notorious, apparently 'invincible' Captain Arthur Kirkland.
Speaking of the man himself, there he stood a small distance away from her, with his back towards her. Abigail saw he was finally in different clothing-or was that the same long-sleeved white shirt he had worn earlier? Because now that she took the time to notice them, those black breeches appeared to be the same, too. And...and wow. He really was quite thin, wasn't he? If she didn't know him (or at least, knew him less than she already did), she would have assumed he hardly ate anything. It was almost...almost alarming. A small, minute detail, however, that she probably would not have noticed all day with his large coat on.
"Are you comfortable, Miss Abigail?"
The captain's voice shook Abigail out of the stupor she had fallen into, and she quickly blinked herself back to awareness, watching with wide blue eyes as the other blonde finally turned around to behold her, back resting against the small desk he had been facing. She could see he had a tea cup in his hand, steaming with some sort of hot liquid (Well...no duh, Abby, she told herself. I bet you ten buckaroos it's tea.) in it. All in all, he looked pretty relaxed.
Completely opposite of how she felt. The young woman swallowed. "Uh, I...actually, I'm..." Oh, to heck with trying to be cool. "...yeah, I'm nervous."
Arthur chuckled, nodding. He bent his head as he took a sip from his drink, pressing his lips together once he was finished. "Not something I haven't seen before. But not that you need to worry; you can sit back and enjoy the ride, should you wish to." Then he tilted his head to the side with a slight, careless shrug. "Unless, of course, you like it rough."
Abigail gulped, her face unexpectedly flushing even as she stuttered."I-I, well, I, uh-no-that is, I wouldn't know-I haven't-uh..." Frowning to herself heavily for a moment, she finally blurted in her defense, "You're not making this easy..."
The captain, still smirking, hummed to himself as he reached back and placed the small teacup on the dark cherry oak desk behind him. "Then here," he murmured, walking towards her. Abigail found herself frozen, breath hitched somewhere in her throat and suddenly refusing not to move as she watched, bewitched with wide blue eyes as the man came very close to her. "This should make it easier."
Next thing she knew, Abigail found herself being kissed.
Kissed so soundly, so firmly, so authoritatively, that she couldn't move for a split second. She sensed more than saw the captain's hands place themselves on either side of her against the door behind her, and then felt with surprise the distance close between their bodies.
Electricity shot up her spine, and before she knew it, Abigail had her hands on his shoulders and was pushing him away desperately-fervently. In instinctive fear and self-protection.
Arthur, for some miraculous odd reason, relented to her wish. He pulled back, not too far away, but away enough so their breath wasn't on each other's face so much, and raised an amused eyebrow at her. Still thinking this is a game, she noticed with pain in her chest. Still taking this as entertainment. Not at all a display of true affection. Merely a pastime. "Something bothering you?" he asked quietly.
Abigail took in a breath. Oh, how close they were. It was so very much uncomfortable, and she couldn't deny that she simply wanted to scream and kick at her offender...but she couldn't. For indeed that wouldn't very much be, er, loving him, now would it? She swallowed, and decided to tell him the truth. "Yes."
Arthur's face faltered for a minute, as if she had just done something he wasn't expecting. He then took a careful moment to respond, his vivid (Abigail had to admit they were his best feature) green eyes scanning her face. Almost as if he were concerned. Then he pressed his lips together again in a thin line-an antic, Abigail noted, that he apparently did each time he found himself in deep thought. His right hand began to stroke a lock of her brown hair idly. "You're taking my advances awfully patiently." The green eyes flickered from his hand to her eyes again, oddly penetrating. "Quite different from your previous attitude towards me..." He let his voice fade away, asking a question that wasn't really a question.
His captive nodded, taking in another breath slowly as she baited time for her words which were still gathering. "I've...been thinking," she finally responded in a cryptic manner, averting her blue eyes away. Blue eyes that even Arthur had to admit were breathtaking; especially in this dim light, making them reminiscent of the ocean when the sun had just disappeared beneath the horizon, and the deep blues in the water were in gradient with the lighter hues still lingering. A simple, yet awing sight.
Arthur said nothing in response; instead, he merely watched her, his face unreadable. Abigail pushed back her unease at that, flickering her eyes towards him only briefly before looking away again as she continued hurriedly. "I know it kinda seems stupid, and who knows? Maybe you've heard this a thousand times before...but..."
She furrowed her eyebrows slightly, gathering saliva into her mouth, for it suddenly felt dry. "...but I want to be different." A pause. A moment to let that sink in. "I don't want to be just another girl you lay. I want...I want to change things."
Arthur hummed again, still playing with her hair. His face was close again, and with it, Abigail could smell his breath. Tea. Strong tea. Yet there was something wrong that; something wasn't right with the classic 'gentleman's drink' being the smell of a man so opposite of that nature. "And how do you expect to do that?"
Brought back to reality, Abigail found that she had forgotten what she was going to say for a brief moment. "Ah..." Then she hurriedly cleared her throat, beckoning her resolve back to her. To her great relief, it came. She swallowed. "...by loving you."
Green eyes flickered towards her, highly amused. Pale lips parted to taunt her-to mock her, and say that that wasn't something he hadn't heard before.
But Abigail wasn't quite finished yet.
And for some reason, the atmosphere shattered.
A soft groan at the sunlight's insistence to wake up; Abigail didn't want to move. She was far too comfortable where she was, lying on that lush green bed, cushioned and warm. Which was strange enough, seeing as how she hadn't pulled any covers over herself last night (for fear of treading on any unintended kindnesses).
It was probably a mercy of his own that they didn't have sex last night.
But just thinking about last night made Abigail feel uneasy. Her eyes now open, gazing at the opposite wall, she recalled how everything after one instant...simply changed. Which, she had wanted to happen, but not quite...in the way it did, with the affect that it had had on him.
She could remember clearly the way he visibly recoiled. Just slightly. The way his green eyes widened in shock. He had been absolutely taken a back, those huge eyebrows of his raised, tilted upward almost pitifully. Almost pleadingly And for one brief moment, Abigail hadn't seen a ruthless captain of the seas before her, who had had hundreds of women in his bed. She saw... well...
He really has never known that kind of love before.
She could remember thinking that-remember the realization that all the rumors among Arthur's crew had been true. And she could remember why. She could remember the question swirling around in her head like a persistent tornado.
Why had this child been so unloved?
And then the heartless glimmer in his eyes had returned-harder than before. The hands dropped to his sides, the eyebrows lowered themselves dangerously. Abigail had been frightened for a brief moment that he would kill her in that next second.
But he didn't.
She could remember the slam of the door behind her as he left. How the entire room shook with it-how she swore she could almost feel the entire ship tremble with it, too-and how unsettled she had felt by his silence. By his abrupt departure.
Would he come back? She had wondered.
Well, apparently, Abigail saw as she lay on the captain's bed in his very own room that was so very captain-less at the moment, he didn't.
The question bounced around in her skull, eventually broke free, and then decided to clamber about the captain's room in that same irking obnoxiousness until Abigail had no choice but to reluctantly sit, stand up, and then go out to greet the day. The day, the crew...and the captain, if fate should so chose to reunite them at such an opportune moment.
She took a hesitant breath, hugging herself as she stared at the door in front of her. For a long moment, she simply stood there, frowning to herself. Telling herself this really shouldn't be that hard, because nothing had happened.
But maybe that's what made it so difficult, since everyone was expecting the complete opposite.
Abigail jumped and nearly screamed at the sight of the door suddenly banging open, thrown nearly off its hinges from the force of the two who demanded entrance so robustly. But upon seeing who they were, Abigail found no trace of fear in her heart anymore. If anything, there was only a swell of relief and amusement.
Feliciano and Elizaveta.
"Ow, Feli!" the female was complaining, rubbing her side with a wince. "I was going to open the door; you didn't have to just shove right through me so impatiently!"
"Ve~! I'm sorry!" But for once, the Viteliun didn't look too distressed. If anything, his auburn eyes were hardly on his fellow crew member, they were dancing around the room excitedly, looking for something, until they finally landed on the brunette in the center of the room. Then he suddenly grinned, nearly bowled over Elizabeta again in his haste to reach said friend, and wrapped Abigail in a hug as he cried, "Abby! AbbyAbbyAbby-how do you feel? It doesn't hurt too bad does it?"
Abigail blinked, laughing. "Uh...no? Actually, I'm - "
" - oh, he went easy on you?" Elizaveta's voice came as she walked towards them, grinning in a very motherly way. The warmth in her green eyes made Abigail feel right at home, almost nostalgic. "That does not surprise me. You're such a likable person, Abby."
Abigail stared at her blankly, trying to fight the blush that wanted to overcome her cheeks at that flattering statement (it didn't help that Feliciano was agreeing, saying, "Ve~! She really is!" even as he practically smothered her in this bone-crushing hug of his). But in order to help her case, she tried to wriggle free, muttering, "W-wait, guys..." She had to laugh a little once she was finally out of it, holding out the red-brown-haired Viteliun at arm's length as she continued, "...what I mean is I'm fine because we didn't...well..." Why was this so awkward to say? "...we didn't...uh...have...it."
Silence. Both of her companions stared at her in shock.
"And you aren't dead?"
Abigail blinked and laughed again, this time a bit nervously as she scratched her cheek with a single finger. "Uh...no? I'm pretty sure I'm alive and kicking right here in front of you..."
Feliciano stared in unabashed wonder and amazement for a long moment at her - nearly making the poor girl squirm in discomfort - before turning to the equally-as-astonished companion at his side. "Ve..." he weakly muttered. "...no wonder he's in such a hissy mood..."
"Uh...'hissy?'" Abigail repeated, confused.
"Yes," was Elizaveta's response. Quick, dismissive, and accompanied by a wave of the hand. "'Hissy,'" she repeated. "Not 'pissy.' The captain, more or less, only gets 'pissy' when he's drunk. 'Hissy' is the more accurate word, since he often acts like a cornered cat when he's angry and boiling about something. Very defensive and screechy, too." The woman hummed idly, thinking as she tilted her head to the side.
"Ve~!" Feliciano fretted, clearly not as laidback about the entire thing as the first mate. "But what should we do, Lizzie?" he wailed. "This has never happened before! If the captain sees her while he's still being hissy, do you think he'll kill her?"
The response was quick, as if Abigail wasn't even there. "Oh, without a doubt."
"W-what?" Abigail felt weak, but willed herself to stay on her feet. Willed herself to stay undaunted in the face of this scary thought. "Then...then what do I do? I don't want to die!" Quite a useless comment, really, but it was true.
"Well, I had hoped you two would be smarter than this," Elizaveta frowned. She crossed her arms over her chest, tilting her head to the side as she pondered. "The answer's obvious," she responded. "The only thing we can do is prevent you two from crossing paths for at least day or so. I think after that, the captain will finally have calmed down enough that we can try to, uh...get things back to normal - "
" - LAND HO!"
A small, doomed pause. "...that would be, if we hadn't already reached Galicia." Then a swift curse. Elizaveta quickly turned heel, opening the captain's cabin door quickly, with almost surprising speed. "I thought we wouldn't be here for a few more days yet...!"
Both of the other two followed her out to the deck, seeing for themselves once they reached the chilly, windy fresh air outside that indeed, the coast of Galicia was right there. The rest of the crew was in a tizzy, running around, shouting to one another. The splash of the anchor as it hit the water seemed to calm everyone down, and they instantly began milling about to their other duties as they prepared themselves for a few nights' stay. Feliciano, too, dashed off back down into the lower decks of the boat, probably to check with Lovino to see if there was anything they needed.
Abigail felt her heart sink watching it all. She turned to Elizaveta worriedly. "Lizzie...what does this mean?"
Elizaveta sighed, reaching a hand up to slide underneath her thick brown hair and scratch the back of her neck. It was a small moment before she responded, and when she did, it was with uncertainty. "I'm not sure, Abby," she uttered quietly. "But rest assured this probably means the captain won't be onboard as much, so you'll have a much easier time of not running in to him."
For some reason, that wasn't exactly what Abigail wanted to hear. She felt her shoulders slouch in disappointment. "Well...why can't I just leave? Just...walk off the ship and never be seen again?"
The brown-haired woman grinned at her, green eyes sparkling. "There's two things wrong with that, my dear," she replied, holding up to fingers as if to emphasis her point. "One, the captain doesn't very much like his little treasures suddenly growing wings and flying away. Two, shouldn't that prove to be a bit cowardly - " - Abigail's face turned red, her mouth opening to object to such an accusation, but Elizaveta continued unabashed. - " - when already, you've proven to both be the one girl the captain hasn't laid, and the one girl he hasn't killed when he didn't?"
Abigail frowned, placing her hands on her hips with a huff. "And I'd like to keep it that way, y'know. Somehow I don't see running away as cowardly; it seems more...beneficial for me, anyway, to try and preserve what I can of my life."
Elizaveta's eyes softened and her hands, to Abigail's surprise, took the girl by the shoulders, looking pointedly into her blue eyes. "Yes," she replied after a moment's pause. "It would seem that way, wouldn't it? But Abby...if not for yourself, if not for the captain, then stay on behalf of the crew. It sounds odd to you, I know - but after last night..." She paused a moment, and laughed at herself. "...I think you might be the one hope we have of setting things right."
Abigail paused a moment, feeling awkward. She couldn't stop herself from asking it. "You keep saying things like that. 'Changing.' 'Setting things right.' What's..." She furrowed her eyebrows slightly in worry. "...is there something going on here, Lizzie?"
A nervous laugh; weird, coming from the normally confident woman. "More than you would know. Things you wouldn't believe, Abby." The woman sighed, letting her hands fall from the other girl's shoulders, her green eyes returning to watch her comrades as they finished busying about. "But that's for a later time and a much later discussion. The winds are changing. Everyone's feeling it - all the crew members - and in this unsettling new atmosphere, they're beginning to wonder about a very specific question." She paused, then shrugged. "What's the purpose of life?"
Somehow, that struck Abigail as odd. She tilted her head to the side, giving her companion a strange look. "Man, you pirates are way more philosophical than I ever thought pirates to be..."
That made the first mate beside her tilt her head back and laugh boisterously. Almost shockingly loud, but it wasn't an unpleasant sound. Once her fit had died down, the brunette replied happily, "Again, it's that change in winds. Pirates don't normally think too much. We do what we want, when we want. Spur-of-the-moment action and pillaging. Brainless, heartless action."
The woman's happiness faltered, the smile fading. "Heartless action..." she repeated. "It's...been getting to some, it's making us wonder...if there's something better out there than this life...you know?"
Abigail listened, and found herself nodding to Elizaveta's words. The green-eyed woman then turned to her with a small smile, complete and open honesty in her eyes. Something refreshing on board a ship run by a vey deceitful man. Elizaveta continued. "That's why...we have such faith in you. Well at least...Feli and I do, now." She smiled. "And that will spread, once we tell the others. Once the crew hears what happened. We like change, Abby. We've been asking for it for a while, and you might just be the answer to our prayers all along."
Abigail's eyes drifted to the men who were now lowering the smaller boats to ship themselves onshore, an uncomfortable feeling settling in her chest. She still didn't see the captain, something she debated on whether or not to be happy about. "But what about Arthur...?" she murmured quietly. "My entire original plan to change things revolves around him - what if he...? I don't know...what if he really does kill me next time he sees me? Or what if...?"
"Well, from what Feli told me about you and your 'original plan,' I have just one question to ask you," Elizaveta replied easily, gently. She had her hands on her hips, but somehow that wasn't intimidating. "Do you think the kind of love you wanted to offer can so change a man? That it's...powerful enough to touch the very core of his being, pushing past his sins, and even transform him?"
A small pause. Abigail didn't answer, so Elizaveta went on. "Because if so, then there's nothing to worry about. That love Feli mentioned you said you would give - unconditional, was it?" A warm smile came over her face, thoughtful, reminiscing. She nodded. "A good word - an excellent word. I love it, and it will change him. That kind of love is not silent; it is not passive. It is strong, it is..." Here the green eyes turned away briefly - was that a trick of the sun, or did they appear to be moist to Abigail? - as Elizaveta paused a moment, licking her lips. "...it's one of those things that, executed sincerely, can withstand the mightiest gale and the strongest wave. At least, that's what I've heard."
Elizaveta turned back to the blue-eyed girl beside her, smiling determinedly. Once again, she took the young woman by the shoulders, making sure to meet her eyes as if to ensure that her message would get across. "That's why I have such faith in you. You were the smart one who finally played the best card, laid the final trick, and although you're betting a lot, I believe you can win. It's also why...it's also why I'm imploring you to stay, no matter how badly you want to run away."
Abigail faltered. "Lizzie..."
"Please, Abby?" Elizaveta slid her hands from the girl's shoulders, folding them together in an almost begging manner. "Stay? I swear, if the captain tries to kill you, I'll protect you. I'm his first mate; next to Kiku, I'm the only person who can match Arthur's swordsmanship. So you don't have anything to worry about. I've got your back."
But what about Kanata? What about Madeline? What about finally seeing her after all this time...? Abigail took an uneasy breath, closing her eyes as she tried to find a middle ground. It wasn't easy. "If I agree to stay...please tell me that at some point I will be able to return home?"
There was a long, uncertain silence. One in which Abigail began to get very nervous - but finally, finally, Elizaveta responded, once again with complete honesty. "I think...that is something you'll really have to ask the captain. After, of course, he is a changed man." She winked at her. "Which, once he is, I think I would find him having a hard time telling you no, especially after all you would have gone through to get to that point."
Abigail nodded back, equally as unsure. But with a shrug and a final sigh, she lifted her head with a hesitant smile on her face, replying, "Well...why not, then? It's not like I have a choice. Let's see where this course may take us."
"I like the way you said that, Abby!" Elizaveta enveloped Abigail in a fierce hug, her joy radiating from her almost in overwhelming heat waves. Her grin was a mile wide. "I like the way you said that..."
Abigail almost laughed - or well, she would have, only if she felt so much hope for the future as her comrade did. But as it were, she felt like she had just signed herself up for a suicide mission; practically given the captain her own plank and offered to walk off of it - straight off of the ship - and to plummet into the murky, rough abyss of the unmerciful sea tides beneath. No contractual obligations; after all, she had purely volunteered.
Oh how stupid she could be sometimes.
Crystal's Notes: Yaaaaaay! (checkmarks box next to "Ch. 3" on list) Complete! Finally! After a lot of care and trepidation, because I especially wanted to do these scenes just right...xD So I hope everyone's satisfied? If not, I have a habit of making cyber food for any hungry people. 83 Any requests? Maybe I'll just make cyber fondue...everyone likes fondue, right?
Although I am certainly very glad that our favorite Italian/Viteliun brothers are appreciated by CertifiedLollygagger, and that Alfred - yes, Alfred, you have people who are finally noticing you in your little corner down here! No, this doesn't call for a celebration McDonald's run - is loved by Ritaka. Much love to the both of you for reviewing last chapter. :) It seriously means a lot to me, and to the characters as you can...well...tell. (Alfred, stop jumping on my bed!)
(ahem) To other matters. Cipangu - Japan. It that wasn't...obvious enough. xD And uh...I don't think there's any other notes besides that to say?
Oh! And guess what? There will FINALLY be some action next chapter! I'm actually really excited about it! I hope you guys are, too, because we finally get to see Pirate Arthur in all his glorious, kick-buttin' action! Mwahahahaha...
...oh, and we'll see a few familiar faces, too. xD So stay tuned until then? You guys have been amazing. Truly and honestly. Seriously. And I luff you all.
Now Alfred, make yourself useful and beg for more reviews.