Captain, My Captain…

Jim knew that this quiet new tenant was going to drive Sarah insane with her lack of house-keeping skills. She may not say much but there was something about her. All may be revealed on the journey. But will trusting her be a mistake? JimXOC

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction…

Emma paused. Her hand hovered over the different spices on the rack in front of her. She eyed them. Trying to recall again what exactly the recipe called for, she just shrugged and added in the ingredient that looked right.

"Well, intuition's gotta be right sometimes, aye?" She mused, and then looked down at the simmering black goo. "Then again…" She didn't like the look of the stuff. It didn't look anything like what her landlord had shown her twice before…three times…well, countless times before. It looked inedible.

She didn't fancy tasting it for herself, and feeding it to the customers was out of the question.

"Well…now what?" Talking to herself was a habit she had developed over the years, though she liked to think it was the only way to get a decent conversation.

Emma sighed, and realised that she would have to throw out the disaster and start again. Mrs. Dunwiddie wasn't going to like this.

Neither was Sarah, for that matter.

Before she could register the fact that it was going to take her forever to whip up another lunar eclipse, the door to the kitchen swung open, and Emma just about dropped the bowl she was holding. She rolled her eyes, since she knew it would only be either Sarah Hawkins, or her son, Jim.

It turned out to be the latter.

Emma caught sight of his reflection in a frying pan – a sullen-looking teenager, whose blue eyes would have been bright and welcoming had they not been wearing their usual moody expression. They were closed, guarded and brooding. One look at those eyes, however, told Emma all she needed to know.

Not really looking at Jim, Emma pretended to be checking over the inedible-soup she had just concocted, but she did glance at him over her shoulder. She didn't say anything, but he knew what she was thinking – what did he do this time? Like she even had to wonder…

Jim didn't look at her. Even though Emma lacked the discouraging impression his Mother had, or the lecturing tone of Doctor Delbert, he still felt ashamed whenever she was around to discover that he had been busted by the cops.

And, since she had been living at the Benbow Inn for four months now, she was aware of each and every single one of them since then, including the three AM one that Sarah didn't know about, and then there were the few times she'd been involved as well...

"It was no big deal, not like last time." Jim shrugged, putting a pile of plates into the sink to be washed. "I was just solar-surfing in a restricted area…"

Again… Emma thought, rolling her eyes. She didn't voice this, though, and instead asked him: "Did they confiscate…?"

A ghost of a smile appeared on Jim's face, disappearing just as quickly. "Nah…not this time…" He trailed off, not knowing what to say after that.

Emma, though her back was to him, felt his eyes on her, and kept her own glued on the pot in front of her. A small frown had appeared on her face – she was deep in thought about something.

So deep, in fact, that she jumped when a voice called from beyond the kitchen door: "Emma? Is that lunar eclipse ready yet?" Sarah Hawkins sounded tired – it had been a long day; one that was full of screaming kids at a birthday party, and a long list of orders, half of which Sarah had been forced to re-cook after forgetting that Emma was not to be trusted in the kitchen…one would think that Sarah would have learned after sixteen weeks of mishaps, but one would be wrong

Emma's eyes darted anxiously towards the pot. "Umm…" She began to call back, just as Jim came up beside her and picked up the pot, tipping the contents into a large bowl without looking at it. He carried it towards the door.

"It's okay, I've got it." He shrugged, shouldering open the door.

"Jim, wait, that's not…" Her words fell on deaf ears, however, as the door swung shut behind Jim. Emma groaned, and pressed a palm to her face. She held up her other hand, and counted, out-loud: "Three…two…one…"

"AAAUUURRRGGGHHH! ! !"

The scream was high-pitched and familiar, and came from Mrs. Dunwiddie.

Again.

This was followed by Sarah Hawkins hurriedly exclaiming: "I am so sorry, Mrs. Dunwiddie, really I am, I'll get you a replacement straight away, on the house!" She added, and Emma heard the hurrying footsteps before the kitchen door swung open, and a tired-looking, middle-aged woman with chocolate brown hair pulled back in a messy ponytail bustled in. Her blue eyes – which were the same colour as her son's – appeared as stressed out as the rest of her, complete with dark bags.

She hurried right over to the bins, and got rid of the messed up lunar eclipse, bowl and all. Then, on a second thought, she binned the pot that had been used to cook it, and the spoon that had been used to stir it. She then began making another batch of soup.

While all of this was happening, Emma just watched her, unsure of what to do. She always seemed to stand still and just watch whenever she was unsure. Sarah was used to it by now, but it had been a little daunting at first – like the girl had been trying to figure out what kind of person Sarah was, just by watching her. She did that to everybody, although she would look away if anybody looked back at her.

Finally, with the soup on and everything under control, Sarah turned around to face the girl, who dropped her gaze automatically.

"Emma," Sarah began, pointing to the dished, and then pausing. She corrected herself, and pointed to the bin. "Could you take the trash out and then…take the afternoon off." She added, not really knowing what else to do with the girl.

Emma nodded, a little sadly, but she was used to this by now.

Sarah sighed. She was just about at her wit's end with her tenant. Emma was young, somewhere between the age of sixteen and twenty-two – Sarah had never asked, and Emma had never stated. There was a mutual agreement between that two where Sarah had stopped asking too many prying questions, and Emma had attempted to help out more, in return for free food and accommodation. The arrangement wasn't really working for either of them, and the problem was entirely based around Emma's poor house-keeping skills. She couldn't sew, she couldn't clean, and she was a terrible cook – she was the first to admit this. Sarah hadn't said it (and, she wasn't going to) but Emma was not going to make a good housewife in the future. Her lack of social skills didn't help much, either.

Not that she couldn't get a husband, if she tried. If it were based on looks alone, than Sarah thought that Emma would make a very beautiful young woman. She was small, in a petite way, with dark brown hair that occasionally formed ringlets that fell to partway between her ears and her shoulders. And her eyes…not quite gold and not quite brown, but watching. She was always watching, and listening too, with those ears pierced three times each. Those six gold earrings, plus a locket she wore around her neck, were the only things save the clothes on her back that she owned. She hardly ever seemed to want to speak, especially if there was a group of people around and, if not for the housekeeping skills (or, lack of) she'd make a perfect, dutiful housewife.

Not that she wasn't dutiful – she obeyed every order without question, something Sarah wished her son would take notice of. No, the problem was that she seemed to lack every skill a girl her age should have. Even though she'd been here for four months, it wasn't clear yet just what her life skills were.

Well, there was one. Sarah watched as Emma walked over to the rubbish bags, and heaved them up and over her shoulder without so much as a problem.

Then, she glanced questioningly at Sarah.

Sarah gave Emma the 'go ahead' sign, and Emma bowed her head again and hurried out the back door, humming to herself once she thought she was out of earshot.

Sarah sighed. Of all the girls Jim could've brought home, why did it have to be the strange one?

Emma flung the rubbish bins into the container behind the inn, before washing her hands clean under a nearby tap. As the water rolled between her fingers, she frowned again.

"I keep messing up…" She muttered.

"You get used to it." A voice said from behind her, and she jumped.

Turning the tap off, she stood up and turned around slowly, to see Jim leaning against a nearby wall. He seemed a little less sullen than he had before.

"I don't see why we should have to." Emma replied quietly, looking everywhere but at Jim. Even though he'd been the one to find her, when she'd been lying out there in the rain and mud, she still wasn't sure if she could trust him or not.

Jim shrugged. "Whatever…" He glanced up at the late afternoon sky, and a certain gleam crossed his eyes. "Hey, wanna go out for a bit?" He asked her, a different tone to his voice that she knew all too well. It was his 'I'm-about-to-get-us-both-in-trouble' voice.

Emma gave him a Look that clearly said: What…now? She dropped her gaze quickly.

"We could take the solar-surfer…" Jim knew it was a lost cause. He'd been offering for weeks now to take her up there, and she always said no. Either she was afraid of heights, or she wanted to keep the trouble he sometimes got her into grounded.

Emma fidgeted uncomfortably, fiddling with the chain on her locket the way she often did. Sarah had told her that the clasp would break if she did that, but she didn't listen.

Jim sighed, and gave up, pushing himself away from the wall and walking away from Emma, raising his right hand by way of farewell.

Emma watched Jim go, a mini-battle waging itself inside of her at that point.

Part of her knew that staying behind would be the right thing to do – she wouldn't get into anymore trouble, and it would make Sarah happy, too.

Then again, the other part of her – the part that usually lost in the end – was urging her to go, saying that she might not get another chance to do this.

"But…being that close to a guy…even if he is the one who carried me into the inn…can I really do it?" Emma muttered. She glanced at her locket for a second, and opened it, watching the pictures play out in the palms of her hands. "What would you tell me to do, aye?" She sighed, and closed the locket again before anybody saw it.

Then, gritting her teeth suddenly, the way somebody does right before the bungee jump, she ran after Jim…