Chapter II. Doc's POV. Dunno if I want to do Ahim's perspective because it might ruin the mystery of what goes on in her head. For now, this is complete.
"Because he is everything the First Mate isn't."
I become nervous thinking about it, but when it's just you and I in the kitchen, my heart skips a beat. Or three. You're always so gentle with your touches, and while preparing your tea, you ask if I need help with breakfast.
I always say no, because I know where you want to be.
I'm convinced that many mornings, you two don't even know I'm awake. You're too busy lost in your thoughts.
Lost in one another.
You're pretty, you know; I don't think you realize it.
Every time I want to say it, he's there. Everything has ears.
I think he knows, too. His cool, steady gazes says
"Do it. I dare you."
Once in a while, I mumble stupid things.
When I caught you yesterday and you slid down, feet touching the ground daintily, I murmured that you were graceful. I never know if you hear me or not, and I don't know if I want you to.
But I think he did.
I was floored when you walked up to him, sword in hand.
No, you should say no. But you don't.
After a long stare, in which I wonder just what was said without words, he smiles in that stupid, rude way and steps back.
When you fly at him I cry out and cringe.
When I look, I realize you're both locked in a dangerous dance, and I marvel at how he won't go easy on you.
The point of her sword brushes his face and he halts. He exhales. There's a light in his eyes, a hissing fire.
I believe this is the most emotion I've seen from him.
Oh, I hate it.
I always offer to walk you into town.
But I'm either making breakfast, or you're already halfway out the door with him, always beaming.
I blame the Captain; I don't think he's on my side.
All Luka said to me, with a sigh and a ruffle of the hair, was that we never fall in love with the people we are supposed to.
Knowing me as well as she does, she gives me a hard look, and silently admonishes me for believing that I'm the only unrequited love.
I bet we could be happy together.
I listen, and I'm polite. I've always wanted a family. I may not be strong, but I'd like to think I'm smart.
You're soothing, graceful, and charming.
I'd grow old with you.
I don't know what's happened between you two, but it's tangible. It's heavy. I can feel it when he walks in the door.
Your small fingers are on my arm, silently indicating that I stop pouring. The art of tea isn't as easy as it looks.
But the world stops, and a moment freezes in time between the both of you.
There is enough pain in his gaze to make me feel very, very small.
Even though I knew about the "marriage" plot from the beginning, that didn't stop me from snorting quietly.
You and Gai. Pfft. At least in confidence, I think I would be a better husb-
. . .
I hate to think of this as a game – it makes me feel guilty. Still, I always told you I would be willing to help you in any way that I could. After the Captain's dream is complete and we try to figure out what to do with our lives.
Maybe you will decide to settle down – after all, you're still a princess, right? Don't you want that back?
Announcing your decision, I lack the words or the spine to protest.
In the end, I realize that is the problem.
. . . and in the abandoned, desolate throne room, you speak soft and firm. Your heart open to the world, to the crew, to us, you look at me and I know I've lost you.
"I cannot rebuild alone, Joe-san."
Though it hurts, I watch his expression change. And I understand, finally, the mistake I have made.