Lost at Sea, book 2: Drifters, chapter 18, part 2

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“Get out!” Belita yelled as the door opened.“Nope,” Danica said, walking in and shutting the door behind her. “I said leave!” Belita snarled, pushing herself halfway up into an unsteady, angry crouch.“And I said no,” Danica shrugged. She walked over and sat down against the wall next to the Captain. “Part of my job is to tell you no when you need it. Right now you need it. What’s going on?”“Insubordinate… I’m going tae-” Belita couldn’t find the words.“What? Lock me up? Whip me? Hang me?” Danica prompted. “Then who will run your ship while you’re drunk in the middle of the day?”“Fuck ye,” Belita glared.“Fuck me?” Danica asked, a hint of anger seeping into her voice. “We’re marooned. We have a busted hull, limited supplies, half the crew is injured, the noble we’re carting around is pissed off, and you’re in here drinking yourself stupid and crying!”“I just need some time,” Belita snarled. “We don’t have time! None of us do!” Danica barked. “The longer we’re stuck on this island, the more likely we are to die here. Even if we don’t die, the more likely it is that if we manage to get out to sea again that Morant will decide to cut his losses! You know what happens then?”“Yes,” Belita shook her head. “I cannae do it.”“The fuck you can’t,” Danica glared.“I cannae!” Belita repeated. “I buggered this up past salvage! I never should have taken this job. We’re barely on our way, and I’ve already gotten us shipwrecked. A dozen dead already. How are we ever going tae make it through the Drifts? This is a cursed voyage.”“Yup,” Danica agreed.“Oh, fuck ye,” Belita spat again. “What, do you want me to try to convince you otherwise? Sounds like you got the situation pretty well figured out.” Danica put her hands behind her head and relaxed. “Things are bad. Some of it is your fault, but most is just bad luck. Are you going to wallow it it, or lead us out?”“I got us into this. I’m nae fit tae get us out,” Belita swallowed, tears welling in her eyes again.“Then we really are fucked, because you’re the only one who can,” Danica said with a shrug. “Ye’ll do just fine. Ye got Reeve tae help ye,” Belita shook her head. Danica laughed and looked at the captain like she was mad. Danica laughed and looked at the captain like she was mad. “Reeve! You think this crew, your crew, is going to follow Reeve?! That man’s terrifying! You know that, right? He’s one hell of a sailor, and he knows how to get the job done, but he leads through fear. He makes a good bosun for you because you can counter that with inspiration and not let him push too far, but you’ve heard the stories of his ship, right? You want the Kestrel to turn into that?”“At least ye’d all be alive,” Belita said bitterly. “Is that what this is?” Danica asked, turning to face her friend. “Yeah. People died. A lot of people. Some were crew that had been with us years, some we barely knew, and they died on our watch. It’s awful. It hurts like hell, and we’re burying them tonight, and the whole crew is going to need you to help them get through it.”“I cannae even get m’self through it,” Belita shook her head. “I’ve never lost this many. Those fucking monsters.”“That’s what you have me for,” Danica said. “And Coleman, and Will. We’re your officers. Our job is to help you through the things you can’t do on your own. So let us help?”“I cannae see the horizon on this one,” Belita shook her head. “I’m gonnae get all of ye killed.”“That’s life on board a ship,” Danica put her arm around the Captain’s shoulders. bahis şirketleri “We can’t always see where we’re going. We get through it together.”“I’m not who you think I am, Danni,” Belita said quietly. “I know,” Danica nodded.Belita froze. “You know?”“Of course. You came out of nowhere. A fully formed legend that spread like wildfire, and one adventure after another. I was swept up in it at first, same as everyone. It’s why I joined you. Eventually, I started seeing the gaps though. No one had sailed with you before about seven years ago. You’re not that old, so I figured someone must have remembered you from before you were a captain. You had to have started somewhere. A navigator, a bosun, a quartermaster. Someone had to have known who you sailed with before, but no one did. Before you were Captain of the Kestrel, you were someone else.”Belita leaned away, studying Danica’s face in the dim lantern light. “You knew? And you didn’t say anything?”“Actions speak louder than words. I didn’t need to know who you were before to know you were the best Captain I’d ever sailed with. By the time I figured it out, you were also my friend. I didn’t see the use in ever bringing it up. You wouldn’t be the first sailor to take to the seas to run away from their past.”Belita laughed like she was trying not to cry. “Ye are too damn smart, ye know that?”“Go on,” Danica smirked. “Ye always see the gaps, the holes in the stories, the things gone missing. It’s one hell of a gift. Wish I had it,” Belita smiled. “If you had it, you wouldn’t need me,” Danica grinned.“I’ve cocked this right up, haven’t I?” Belita sighed. “I thought it was out of my system last night, but it came back this morning with a vengeance. I just can’t shake feeling like a failure.”“Nobody knows but me,” Danica said. “Oh, and Bella. You owe her a pretty big apology, by the way.”The Captain’s eyes went wide. “Bella? How’s she know? What did I do?”“She came in earlier. You scared the daylights out of her,” Danica said.“Is that who that was? I didn’t even look,” Belita groaned. “Poor lass.”“Poor lass is right. She started having… I don’t even know what to call it. You remember DeCoin? His night terrors, and how he’d be after he woke up?”“Aye,” Belita nodded. “Near unresponsive for a while. Locked in his own head with fear. Music helped him.”“Bella was like that,” Danica explained.Captain Vex’s eyes went wide. “Because of me?”“The Doctor says it’s because of stuff she went through a long time ago, and it’s been brought back because of last night. Now, things like being yelled at make her shut down like DeCoin did,” Danica explained. Belita groaned. “I dinnae mean to… Dammit.”“Just talk to her. I don’t think she’s going to hold a grudge,” Danica gave Belita a small squeeze.“Of all the bad luck and bad decisions that got us here, I have tae go and add ‘upset a witch’ to the list.” Belita rubbed her hands across her face. “How about we start by fixing that, then move on to surviving the jungle?” Danica suggested. Belita nodded and stood up. Her legs were unsteady from sitting against the wall for so long, and the rum in her veins didn’t help. She took a step in the direction of where her mirror used to be, then stopped. “Dammit.” She turned around. “How do I look?”“Ragged, just like the rest of us,” Danica shrugged. “Guess it doesn’t matter,’ Belita shook her head. Normally she obsessed about her appearance, and the impression she left on people. Right now, she just didn’t care. bahis firmaları Somehow, in this situation, that feeling was empowering. “Nope,” Danica smiled. “Let’s go.” ___________________________ He didn’t even bother getting undressed. He just kicked off his boots and walked into the steaming hot spring with Tonya’s sleeping form cradled in his arms.Feathers rinsed off of them and started floating away in the water as he stepped deeper and deeper in, until the water took Tonya’s weight and left him barely lifting her. He found the nearest ledge and sat. She curled against his shoulder and sighed happily.The water was soothing and hot. Caine didn’t come here often. He wasn’t a fan of bathing in public, and while the hot springs weren’t open to customers, they were always public to the people who lived here. Tension began to flow out of him and he found himself wondering why he didn’t do this more often.“S’nice,” Tonya muttered.“You alright?” Caine asked. Her tiny body felt good in his arms. He wanted to take care of her, and keep her safe. He also wanted to fuck her until they both collapsed. He scowled, wondering where those thoughts kept coming from. He transferred her weight to one arm and used the other to adjust his uncomfortable erection.Tonya’s took advantage of being moved to tilt her head and kiss his neck, then his jaw. He froze, feeling like he should stop her but unable to make himself say the words. “You’re so nice to me,” Tonya said sleepily. Caine sighed, exasperated at the situation but not knowing what to say.“Stop it,” she said, feebly thumping her fingers into his chest just above the water. “You pretend like you’re a big grump, but you love us all, and you take care of us.”“I am a big grump,” Caine said half-heartedly. “Only ‘cause it keeps everyone away. ‘Cept me,” Tonya said into his neck. “I’m inside now.”Caine sighed. “That’s not good. I can’t play favorites.”“Guess you’ll have to let everyone else in too, ‘cause I ain’t letting you push me away,” Tonya kissed his neck again.Caine tipped his head back against the smooth stone walls of the hot spring. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt so conflicted. He was used to occasionally being at odds with himself. He was usually of two minds about everything, but usually, those minds agreed in principle. This felt different. Tonya was different, and he had no idea what to do about it.He let his breath deepen and sunk down into himself, opening his mind and shedding his bodily sensations in that way he’d practiced so many times. The heat and comfort of the spring made it even easier than usual. He stepped out of himself and into the swirling mists of the Ways Between. Then his golden counterpart followed. They stood next to each other, sharing a quick glance before focusing their respective gazes on the scene before them. He held a half-asleep, nude, beautiful young witch. Her head was resting on his shoulder and her arms were wrapped around his neck. Her face was contented and trusting. “You aren’t worried about drowning?” his golden counterpart asked. “We’re both right here. We can see her. And ourselves,” Caine shrugged. “I’m more worried about… everything else. What the hell do we do about this?”“I have no idea. This sort of thing isn’t exactly in my realm of experience,” his glowing clone answered.“Mine either,” Caine sighed.“Oh come now,” his counterpart laughed. “I know you’ve been through this sort of thing before. You have children.”“A lifetime kaçak bahis siteleri ago, before you,” Caine countered.“Several lifetimes ago,” the other Caine agreed. “My arrival can’t have erased your memory thought.”“Having kids doesn’t mean you know what the hell you’re doing,” Caine shook his head. “This emotional bullshit was never my strong suit. That’s why I left it behind. I fucked it up bad. I don’t want to put her through that.”“So you do care,” the other Caine said with a knowing smile.“I do. She’s right. I care about all of them. Her especially, now. No idea why though,” Caine scowled. “You have to admit, this isn’t like us at all.”“No, it isn’t.” The other Caine walked around the still pair in front of them, walking on the surface of the water, casting a golden glow across the grey ripples and through the mists. “That doesn’t mean it is a bad thing though.”“I just want to know what it is,” Caine said, frustrated.“We talked about this,” his other half said. “Go see Alexandra.”“I was hoping not to have to do that,’ Caine rolled his eyes. Tonya lifted her head and looked at Caine’s peaceful face. She smiled, then slowly adjusted herself until she was straddling him. “Oh, she is getting ideas,” his golden half smiled.“Fuck,” Caine groaned, stepping towards his body again. His glowing twin put his hand on his shoulder. “Why stop her? Why not enjoy this?”Caine gave his counterpart a surprised look. “Because last time we blew up the vestibule, and nearly killed Janie.”“We were connected to a powerful source of energy at the time. It may be different. This is an opportunity to learn something,” the other Caine insisted.Caine gave his twin a critical look. “You know, for being born without a dick, you’re awfully horny.”The other Caine snorted derisively. “Born. Ha.”Tonya took Caine’s head between her hands and tilted it towards her, looking at him lovingly. She gave him a gentle kiss and said something that they couldn’t hear while they were in the Ways.He was conflicted. Again. How had this girl so quickly managed to get inside his head? Was he being too stubborn? Well, yes. He was always too stubborn. He just didn’t like feeling like he didn’t understand what was happening to him. He needed more information. Maybe his other half was right. Would it be so bad to give in to this? Maybe they’d figure something out. “Fine,” Caine said flatly.“Oh yes, complain more about the affection of a lovely young woman,” his golden twin rolled his eyes, stepping forward on the opposite side.Together they stepped back into their body and Caine opened his eyes. “What did you say?”“I asked if you were awake,” Tonya said, her apologetic shyness belied by her obvious ardor.Caine huffed out a short laugh. “Am now.”“You shouldn’t fall asleep in the bath. You could drown,” Tonya cautioned.“Weren’t you just asleep in the bath?” Caine raised an eyebrow in challenge.“Well yeah, but that’s because I thought you were looking out for me,” Tonya said with a mocking glare.“Ouch,” Caine said with a half-smile. “Well, I wasn’t really asleep. I was meditating.”“Suuuure,” Tonya smirked.“I was still holding you up, wasn’t I?” Caine asked pointedly.“You obviously just sleep all weird and tense, like you do everything else,” Tonya shrugged.“I am not tense,” Caine said flatly.Tonya snorted. “You are the stiffest drunk guy I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen you consume anything but beer, and every night I’m pretty sure you’re the most sober person in the whole building.”“Maybe I just have a high tolerance?” Caine suggested.“You need to switch to something stronger just so you can relax,” Tonya teased.“I’m pretty relaxed right now,” Caine shrugged.“You still have your clothes on,” Tonya deadpanned.

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