A/N: Okay, so after this you have to wait until I write them. I'll try my best, but the plot bunnies are fleeting. I'll put the soundtrack on and try to lure them out, but sometimes they prove elusive...
Two weeks on the sea and his heart was on the mend.
Being away from her, missing her, helped his anger to cool and his emotions to return to their normal resting places inside his mind.
It still ached, sometimes, when he was allowed too much time to think. Before, Chieftain Dubhdara always laughed at him for doing as such.
"Tiernan!" the chieftain would call, startling him out of whatever task he was doing at the time. "What are you doing?"
And Tiernan would smile and reply, "Thinking."
Dubhdara would laugh boisterously, and slap him on the back. "Stop that, boy! You're only supposed to think what I tell you!"
He missed that, too, once in awhile, when he received an order without a jibe or (somewhat) lewd remark. "My girl better still be a virgin, sailor," or "You break her heart, you won't last long, lad!" Always with a twinkle in his eye to temper his harsh words.
It was different now; the teasing had been left behind with Grania. Dubhdara was awkward, uncomfortable around him, unsure of their relationship now as this wedding has been of his making.
Another blow to his heart. He didn't really blame Dubhdara for the situation; after all, Grace always insisted the choice was hers. If Grania had chosen not to marry, only an intervening act of God would have gotten her to participate.
But still their relationship suffered. Tiernan no longer found himself listening to the chieftain's complaints of an aging body or unruly sailors. The void left by this change seemed incredibly large, unable to be filled by anything on board the ship.
Sometimes he found himself wishing he knew how to write; it seemed that he would be able to rid himself of all of these feelings bottled up inside if only he knew how to make those shapes into sounds, give them meanings, give them life.
But he knew nothing of such learned things. He had laughed when Grania mentioned it, asking her what a common sailor would need with conjugating Latin verbs and other such nonsense. Now, as he lay alone, no confidant in sight, he cursed himself for not begging her to teach him how to interpret the scratches she made on her paper.
She was learned; she spoke Gaelic, English and Latin, and could write in all of them. Tiernan spoke Gaelic with a sailor's accent and vocabulary, and his English was passable at best. (Something he should probably look into if things continued to go the way they were.) He could not even write his name.
He had no other outlet for his feelings than his work. (If he and the chief were still close, someone might have admitted that the ship had never been half as clean as it was today.) Scrubbing and repairing and sailing was much more enjoyable than uncomfortable small talk with the other sailors, or lonely nights in the barracks with far too much time to think.
He was surprised when the chief called him into his cabin, but obeyed as any member of the crew would. Dubhdara looked up as he entered, smiling a little. "Tiernan, come in. Have a seat."
Obliging, he perched himself on the only free chair, a rickety scrap of wood more fit for firewood than furniture. "Have I done something wrong, captain?"
Dubhdara shifted in his own chair. "No, not exactly...I wanted to know how you're doing."
"I'm fine, captain," Tiernan replied, too quickly even for his own peace of mind. "Honestly. I'm adjusting." Damn it. he thought, annoyed. I can't even convince myself...
"You're keeping to yourself." At Tiernan's silence, he continued, "It's not like you."
"I...It'shard to talk with them. They treat me differently."
The chieftain considered him for a moment. "I'll work out moving you to another ship."
"No!" Tiernan forced himself to relax. "No. Please. I don't want to leave The Queen. I want to stay...I like working here."
"Alright," Dubhdara agreed, sounding a little bemused. "Have you considered that you might be treating the other sailors differently? I know you miss her, but you've got to move on. Go drink and party with the crew, sailor. We're a clan. We'll get through this as such." Dubhdara got to his feet, coming over to clap him on the shoulder. "You're not alone, Tiernan. You're only isolated if you choose to be."
Tiernan stared at his hands for a long moment. "I miss her," he finally admitted.
"I miss her, too. Every day of my life," Dubhdara replied with an easy smile.
"I'll try to go back to being Irish," Tiernan promised, thinking of his recent avoidance of alcohol and music and people.
Dubhdara laughed loudly. "What else can I expect?"
Even Tiernan found himself smiling a little. Putting himself back together was proving to be quite a trial, but perhaps it was time he kicked it into high gear.
Life wouldn't wait forever.