Deryn was in the guts of the Leviathan, using the toilet with Alek and Newkirk waiting for him just outside the bathroom stall door. She was sitting on a toilet in a panic; face flushed a bright red with hands scrambling to fold the handkerchief to a rectangular shape. Her hands were slightly shaking, rushing to secure the handkerchief on her underwear.
I hope this stays, Deryn thought. Please don't move around on me.
Someone pounded loudly on the stall door. "Oi, Dylan, hurry up! You got diarrhea or something?" It was Newkirk. Prince Aleksander Ferdinand of Austria would never say something that repulsive. No doubt he was blushing at the statement at the moment.
Deryn inwardly groaned. The two boys absolutely insisted on racing to the dining room, to childishly see who had increased their stamina the most during their stay on the Leviathan. Although Alek was princely, he was still only fifteen, welcoming such a challenge.
"Barking spiders, Newkirk, let a man do his business in peace!" Deryn said in her best masculine voice, although she felt far from being masculine at all, considering her period had come the day before, again threatening to reveal her secret to the Leviathan crew. Not for the first time, Deryn pitied herself for having been born a girl. She had lied to everyone she cared about: the beasties, the Leviathan comrades, Captain Hobbes, the whole air force, Britain, Newkirk, and Alek.
Deryn's hands fumbled to pull her underwear up without moving the period cloth. This was definitely a scary situation. The only thing in the way of her secret and Alek and Newkirk was a thin, fabricated wooden bathroom stall door. Worst of all, it was the type of door that showed the feet of the occupant. Deryn had to be extra careful to make everything look normal and not drop anything.
"Dylan, I'm going to break the door down if you don't wipe your ass and come out." Deryn could see Newkirk's impatient footsteps in front of the door.
As Deryn carefully pulled up her boxers over her underwear, to her horror, Newkirk stuck his head in underneath to peek in. He had a mischievous smirk on his face, and Deryn almost cried from embarrassment.
"Ah, you're ready. Let's go," Newkirk sang, reaching his hand up to undo the lock of the small stall. "Almost got it…"
Deryn was in trepidation. What was bloody wrong with boys and privacy? She was standing in front of the toilet, wearing a plaid pair of boxers she wore just for show when she went to bed, with her middy uniform trousers around her ankles. From that angle, Newkirk might be able to see something else within her boxers, or to put it straight, something she lacked.
Quickly bending down to pull up her pants, she punched Newkirk on his head. He fell forward on the ground, and Deryn took the chance to zip up her pants. She gave a sigh of relief. Her secret was safe for another day. Now to take care of the disrespectful boy on the ground. She would pound him good once they were up on the topside, with secure period cloths on, of course.
Before Deryn could open the stall to leave, Newkirk's arm shot out and grabbed her trousers at the ankles.
"What the—what the hell are you doing, Newkirk?" Deryn was suddenly afraid he had seen something. Now Deryn did not dare to open the door. She did not want Alek to find out like this, in the most awkward ambience possible. The boys had thought she was doing number two the whole time. If Alek found out now, like this, he would not only think her a liar, but a gross, repulsive girl as well.
"Wait, hold on." Supporting himself with his arms, Newkirk crawled in and stood over Deryn. Deryn was a tall girl, but in the last six months, Newkirk had surpassed all in height, lanky with a bit of muscle expected of a middy. He stood directly in front of her, their bodies almost touching in the cramped space. Deryn was too ashamed and embarrassed by the situation that she dared not to look into his eyes.
"Say what you want," she whispered. "But please, don't tell anybody—" Deryn looked up at Newkirk's face and found a fresh scar across his left cheek, blood flowing freely from the deep gash.
"Is it bleeding badly?" Newkirk touched his face with his hand. He tsked. "You didn't have to hit me into the ground, you know. We all know you're the strongest out of the all of us." He reached across Deryn and grabbed a handful of tissues.
Deryn was frozen with both shock and relief. Newkirk did not seem to suspect anything, but his arm was right across her breasts as he grabbed the tissues. Deryn dared not breathe for fear of him noticing a bump where there should not have been.
As Newkirk pressed the tissues to his cheek, Deryn snapped out of her trance. "I-I'm really sorry. Here, let me."
Deryn took the tissues into her own hands and patted the flowing blood off of Newkirk's face. There wasn't too much, thank goodness. Her heart beat faster as she looked at Newkirk's face, for the first time noticing he had the classic good looks; straight brown hair, teddy bear brown eyes, lips that were neither thin nor plump. This close together in this space, she wondered if her friend could hear her free-willed heartbeat. When she looked into his eyes, she saw that he was smiling, his eyes sparkling with amusement.
"It's no big deal, Dylan," he said. He took the hand that that was patting his face and held it for a moment. Deryn and Newkirk stood face to face, mere inches separating them, him holding her wrist still.
It's the hormones, Deryn thought to herself. Barking period making me think things I shouldn't. Deryn was aware of the cramped environment, the proximity of their bodies, and the closeness of their faces. Had Newkirk always been this handsome? He had certainly matured from when they first met, a wee child with blemished skin and awkward movements. Newkirk was now a tall, boy, muscles visible under his brown middy tee shirt, all traces of blemishes gone.
Deryn collected herself. She was not going to turn into a monkey luddite just because this was her first time this close with a male.
"Sorry, lad," she said in her masculine voice. "We'll stop by the infirmary on our way up." Deryn tried to sound more confident than she felt. Until she got a proper cloth for her period, she wasn't sure if the cloth she was currently using would stay put or worse, leak.
Alek pounded on the door. "Are you guys alright? What's taking you both so long?"
Newkirk opened the door and stepped outside. "That dummy punched me down and a stray nail on the floor cut my cheek."
Deryn stepped out with her back straight, putting on a confident smirk, willing her heart to stop pounding. Had she been that afraid that Newkirk would find out her secret that she was still nervous?
Alek stared at Deryn strangely, from her to Newkirk, who had moved to stand slightly behind Deryn, who hadn't noticed.
"Infirmary first, then," said Alek.
"It's no biggie. Let's go eat," said Newkirk. He turned to Deryn. "We'll go up first. If you haven't finished your business, don't let us bother you."
The boys turned to leave, Alek giving Deryn a questioning look as he turned his head. Then he winked, laughing and making Deryn's heart beat faster once again as he did constantly.
"Ah, diarrhea, is it?" Alek laughed. "I guess I'll meet you at the egg room tonight."
"Y-yeah, Barlow's been more persistent than usual," answered Deryn. "Later, then."
Deryn felt a cluster of emotions. She was looking forward to being alone in the egg room with Alek that night, even if it was sweaty and smelly. She groaned again. Barking period was making her unnecessarily feminine.
Then, she realized with horror, Newkirk had saved her from racing them all the way upstairs by taking Alek with him. Somehow, he knew she had something important to do alone. Right then, she knew. Newkirk knew. Deryn felt small and exposed, her arms rubbing her shoulders as if it could rid her of the dust of problems that were settling on her life. He knew.