Officer Murdoch, holding a delicate cup of black coffee, the middle of which was dominated by a lemon slice, stood on the bridge as his heart rate calmed.
"That was a close one boys... well done." He said, smiling now.
The young officers, including the youngest of them who stood by the wheel, cheered and said things such as "Nothing's gonna get in the way of this ship!" and "That was a close shave."
Murdoch walked over to the edge of the bridge and looked down onto the well deck, illuminated by the spot lights on the clinical white walls. The ship was so new that anything white on the ship was still white, but not just white, a dazzling white, like new teeth or fresh snow. It looked nice now, but in a few years rust would start to take its toll and sea fungus would no doubt try to attack the flawless hull. But time was on Titanic's side, as was a team of hundreds to maintain the ship's "floating palace" status. By the side of the ship stood two young adults, a girl and a boy, holding one another gently. The middle aged officer smiled, his red nose wrinkling up as his beady eyes witnessed the heart warming sight below.
He sat his coffee down upon the ledge before him as he stood upon his balcony, and rubbing his gloved hands together, he clasped them around his mouth to shout in his Scottish accent, "Watch you don't fall over the edge! Wouldn't want to add a death toll of 2 to the Headlines in New York!" he spoke jokingly, his voice echoing across the silent Ocean.
Jack whipped his head around to see the man in the long coat and black cap up on his majestic balcony, the foremost funnel towering high above him puffing a steady flow of silent steam into the air. "Oh we won't... well I won't anyway. I can't speak for this one here, Sir!" Jack replied cheekily, pulling in Rose by the waist, patting her head patronizingly.
Murdoch laughed out loud at the teen's quick witted response. However, the girl caught in the middle of this masculine game was less impressed. Rose, with a sharp, insulted gasp, pushed Jack away and retorted, "I'll have you know I'm more responsible than this BOY will ever be!" She spoke loud enough for the man on the bridge to hear, but kept her mocking eyes fixated on the dashingly handsome tanned lover of hers.
"Oh I'm sure you are, Miss, I'm sure you are! I don't doubt it for a second." He turned, about to walk away, before finishing, "After all, I'm sure the fact you're wearing nothing under that dress of yours is simply a one off." And with that, he had walked away coolly, smirking at his own wise-crack.
It was a bold thing to say, but he had said it, and as soon as the words had reached the well deck below, Jack was in hysterics, bending over and holding his stomach. Rose's cheeks went rouge and she hit Jack on the back of the head, hating him lovingly.
"Don't laugh at him, you'll encourage him!" Rose scolded.
"Oh, he doesn't need any encouragement... neither will the men down in 3rd class when they see you in that get up." She gasped at his remark, and Jack stepped forward casually, moving his hands from Rose's chest, down her sides, coming to rest on her hips. Then, without warning, he pulled her in and stared into her eyes. "But don't worry, I'll protect you, M'am!" with this last promise of his, he used a stereotypical Western accent, sounding like a cowboy from a John Wayne film.
"Well I should hope so! . . . Are the men down there really like that?"
"Of course not." Jack reassured her. "Well, not all of them. But even still..." shrugging his shoulders, he removed his coat and put it upon rose like a true gentleman, covering her up in the cold. "...better safe than sorry."
Back in cabin B 54, a furious Cal paced the sitting room floor as the Master at Arms rifled through countless sketches of women in various states of undress. Cal, noticing that the plump pink man with the white moustache seemed more aroused than astounded at his fiancés disappearance, charged over to him and snatched away the drawings sharply. "Don't touch anything! I want the entire room photographed." He whined.
The Master at Arms, slightly disappointed by the confiscation of the sketches, returned to his official duties, grumbling under his breath. "I don't know what his problem is." He whispered to his colleague as Cal approached the cabinet in the other room to reveal a bottle of whisky and a glass. "So the girl has gone missing for a few hours, big deal! She'll have met some friends, gotten carried away, had a few drinks in the dining saloon and lost track of time. She's on a ship, not another bloody planet!"
"You're right, she's not on another planet..." his companion nodded in agreement, and then signalled his eyes casually over to Cal, who was staring at the drawings with hatred, punching them as they sat atop the table. "...he is."
Jack and Rose strolled along the promenade deck hand in hand, 1st class passers by alarmed by their obvious division in class, yet unstoppably magnetic attraction. For once, Rose felt comfortable being with him out in the open, no longer feeling as if she had to hide her true feelings for this perfect specimen of a man. Jack on the other hand was unusually self conscious now that they had ascended from the well deck. Now, he felt like a big under the magnifying glass, every speck of dirt or smell of cheap beer and tobacco from him amplified. He tried to ignore their gazes, and even though he did this well, he couldn't help but feel out of place in his cords, discoloured shirt and braces. Not to mention his almost worn out boots and somewhat greasy hair. Everyone else looked so flawless. It was true, money couldn't buy you happiness... but it could get you a good wash at least.
"Won't Ruth be out here at this time?" Jack asked, almost nervously.
"Oh no, she wouldn't dare risk catching the cold just to see the beautiful night sky... she missed my first ballet performance because it was rather cold out and she would have had to walk to the Town Hall... i don't think i ever forgave her for that... not properly." As Rose spoke, Jack could tell that even though she kept her head held high, her voice could not hide as expertly the secret sadness that was so quietly hidden.
"I'm sorry to hear that." He squeezed her hand.
She squeezed it back affectionately. "Don't be. My Father was there to see me... he was always there to see me." And then she was silent.
Jack picked up on the silence, sensing that her mind was working overtime. "What you thinking?"
"I'm curious... what do you think my father would say if he could see me now?"
Jack was caught off guard by this, and letting go of Roses' hand he stopped and turned to face her. She stood, barely up to his collar bones, and gazed up at him, deeply interested in the answer that her tanned lover was putting together. "Well..." he began, taking a deep breath. NOW he felt under the spotlight... all eyes on him. "... I think he would be, as cliché as this sounds, very proud. Not only because his little girl has blossomed into the most gorgeous, flawless, independent, intelligent, energetic, fun loving woman, but also because she is starting to live life her way... not the way others want her to live it."
Rose blushed, and as Jack stroked her face, she took his hand and kissed it. An elderly gentleman walking his dog passed the couple and looked at them as if he had seen a large pile of dog faeces invading the personal space of a beautiful flower. "Is that what my father would think? Or is that what you think?" she further questioned him.
"Well, quite honestly, I think it's what any person would think." Just then, he caught eyes with another passerby, who looked him up and down distastefully. "Well, any sane person that is."
"You say that as if all 1st class are not quite right in the head."
"No, not all of them. Just the ones who think it's okay to sell their daughters to strange men." He smiled casually at her, and Rose took the subtle brick of a hint. "That's what I love about 3rd class. We may have nothing, and grow up in slums, living like dirt... but we have something that these guys up here will never have."
"And what's that?"
Jack kneeled down slightly, so he was eye level with the stunning red head, and replied, "Freedom!" with a loud whisper. Just then, he stood in front of her, bent down, and signalled his thumb over his shoulder as if hitching a ride. "Hop on!"
"Excuse me?" she asked, baffled by his position and statement.
He crouched down further and repeated, "Hop on, I'm going to take you for a ride."
Rose laughed, and tried to compose herself as the grey dog walker returned, giving Rose an almost hateful stare. "Jack, this is quite improper and undignified." She imitated her mother's voice.
"Yeah? Well so is playing tonsil tennis with the ship's rats!" And with that, he had rushed backwards, scooping up Rose onto his back, holding her by the thighs, and was immediately charging down the open promenade with her on his back. The bitter night breeze blew her hair behind her, like Lady Godiva. A fiery trail of life and emotion. Her dress, all different layers of material and chiffon, lavender, pink and white, all followed her, like the rippling path left behind by a swan as it flaps it's wings and takes flight. After trying to protest and failing miserably, she gave into his child-like behaviour, lowered her head, and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, screaming in joyful terror. She kissed his neck and tightened her grip as he continued to move forward, holding tightly onto her, making sure he wouldn't let her go, dodging in and out of the horrified passengers ahead of them, ignoring their judgement. They were still young, and as far as Jack was concerned, they had their whole lives ahead of them, so why not start living it now?
"Has anything actually been stolen sir?" The round officer with the white facial hair asked once more, growing impatient with the man in the tuxedo.
The officer cut him off, rolling his eyes. "Don't bother telling me that your fiancé has been 'stolen' Sir, because i will simply tell you what I've already told you. If she is old enough to be getting married, she is surely old enough to stay out past midnight, am I right?"
"As it so happens, no, you're NOT right!" Cal jumped up from his chair, and Ruth, who looked all different kinds of tired, with her bird-nest of a hairdo and a creased silk night gown, placed a calming hand on Cal's arm, and like a tamed bull, Cal took his seat once more.
"So, I'll ask again, shall I? Has anything been stolen from this room, Mr Hockley?"
Cal was silent, refusing to answer, knowing that he would instantly be shot down in flames. "No, nothing has been stolen!"
"Well then, that settles it. Come on men, we've done everything we can here." The man stood and stretched, glancing at the clock. "Well, what a delightful waste of time. Miss DeWitt Bukater, do contact us when your daughter returns."
Ruth nodded, "I will officer, thank you for your patience."
"And God bless you for your patience." He retorted, glancing at Cal. Gathering his coat and hat, he discreetly swiped one of the drawings and folded it up, placing it in his pocket. His colleagues noticed, and nudged him, laughing.
Cal however was less impressed, and when he heard their jovial chuckling, he shot up like a rocket, the fuming inside him proving too much. "Is that it?! You're just going to leave?" he moaned, throwing his toys out of the pram.
"Mr Hockley, we got calls when things go missing, NOT when things show up!" He picked up a drawing of a dark haired woman, with hairy armpits, evidently French. That was a very naturally French thing to do in those days.
"But this is evidence, I say! Evidence!" He snatched the drawing from his hand and brandished it like it was blasphemy.
"Yes... yes it is evidence." The younger officer standing by the door piped up. "Evidence that this Jack Dawson fellow is quite the talent... and quite the ladies man if you don't mind me saying so." He winked and headed out into the hallway. The other two officers followed him, and with that, a furious Cal and an exhausted Ruth were left standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by Jack's fine art... very "fine" art indeed.
"So what's the plan?" Jack asked, biting his finger nail. Clearly, he was anxious. He didn't expect things to escalate so quickly.
Rose pushed his hand away from his mouth and shook her head, smiling warmly. "Bad habit... and I'm not quite sure... I didn't think this far ahead."
He raised his bottom and placed his hands underneath himself, resisting the temptation. "Well... you could always stay with us? Fabrizo can share Tommy's bunk down the hall, and you can have a bunk to yourself. Top or bottom?"
"Excuse me?" she gasped.
"... bunk, top or bottom bunk?"
"Oh, I see." She sighed with relief. "Well, as lovely as that sounds, I don't think it's going to work. This is a ship after all. Cal will find me eventually. And if I stay down in steerage for the next few days, people WILL start talking."
"Jack, my clothes? I won't exactly blend in." She stated, lifting the blue, weightless strip of silk from around her waist.
"I guess you're right." His posture slumped, and he ran a hand through his messy blonde hair, thinking deeply. "Well... just stay with him until we dock, and then come find me."
"I think that's what we might have to do." Rose lay back on the bench, resting her head on Jack's lap, and placing her silver heels on the arm rest, staring up into the sky.
Jack, reaching into his pocket, grabbed a cigarette. He put it into his mouth, and instinctively, Rose reached into her cleavage and pulled out his box of matches. She opened the box, swiped one of the little wooden sticks, igniting it with a scratch, and Jack took the lit match and lit his cigarette.
"Why did you ask me to keep your matchbox in there?"
"I saw it in a Nickelodeon once, and I always wanted to see a girl do it." He winked and ruffled her hair playfully.
"I'd love to be an actress. The stage was my second home when I was younger."
"Well when we start our new life in America, I promise you we will look into getting you on the stage again. And I will come to every show you are in, cheering you on from the front row, your biggest fan."
Rose couldn't believe it. It was only a sentence, just some words that had slipped out of his smooth, sultry lips, but it had caused an eruption of butterflies from within her. "That would mean the world to me Jack... thank you." Just then, she sat up and turned to face him, looking rather serious. "Jack, would you do something for me, well, with me?"
"Will it involve breaking into another automobile?" He asked suggestively.
"No... it will involve escorting me to my cabin to explain to Cal and Mother why your drawings are in the cabin.
His smiled vanished, and his eyes shut as he clasped his hand over his mouth. "Oh shit! I completely forgot that they were there."
"That's not all we left there... I may have placed my drawing inside the safe." Jack's eyes flew open in horror. "But it's okay! He won't have looked in the safe tonight, he has no reason to have looked in the safe. I've left it there for when the ship has docked and we're gone. A goodbye note if you will." She smiled proudly, impressed with her own idea, imagining the look on Cal's face.
"Well what are we going to say?"
"I'm not sure, I'll think of something. I used to act. Lying and acting are the same thing really, it won't be hard."
"But Cal will tear me apart like one of my drawings!" He exclaimed. "Why do I have to 'escort you' exactly?"
Rose leaned in and kissed him before replying, "You jump I jump, right?"