It was late, and you were sleepy after a long day of investigations and running around; you were already in your night shirt and pants- captain's coat hung up across the back of a desk chair at the other end of your cabin on your ship. You're tired, tucked in, and on the edge of sleep in your bed; cradled up in the quarters of your ship…. when your eyes are roused back open by the sound of someone or something rapping at the hull, down below. You groan, huffing as you slowly rouse to a more alert state with each knock on the wood of the Last Dance.
Groggily, you make your way across the deck, and lean over the railing to look down at the docking pier you're tied to, at Sky Watch. It's cold, and the chill bites through the thin material of your night shirt. Down below, huddled in on themselves is a person— but you recognize the gold and orange cap, streamed goggled, and blonde hair of the girl-merchant you have come to know. She's bracing herself against the cold— still dressed in her warmer weathered day clothes, and you feel a pang of pity before you drop your boarding ladder for her to climb up.
Her ship had been stolen the morning before, and you assumed she had been sleeping in the inn, but if she's out here, knocking on your hull… she's either out of money for a warm bed and meal, or her money was… on her ship- which had been taken. She climbs up, and you don't say anything as you cross your arms and give her a questioning look. There are bags under her eyes, she looks beaten down, worn out, tired, and… honestly you've never been able to imagine her looking weak or vulnerable. You have never seen her without that mischievous glint in her eyes- that knowledge that she knows something you don't, and it's her little secret- that hint of adventure, the way she held herself tall and bold… there is none of that now, and it's both surprising and frightening.
"Hi, Alexander. I'm sorry to bother you… b-but…"
She stops, when a shiver forces her to huddle in on herself a little more. You sigh and rub at the back of your neck. You already know what she's going to ask- you have a feeling, at least, and you aren't sure what you want to say. Part of you says be the nicer gent, and let her take your bed for the night. However, the other half of you that suspects her to be a criminal says you shouldn't let her near anything of yours, past this point.
"……. your ship is lovely."
You blink, unprepared for that. You're back to being aware of your surroundings, again, and she's looking around, running her hands along the banisters of the deck stairs and railing; tugging on some of the ropes, and glancing about as if so many different things were calling for her attention.
"Well you do have an eye for detail, don't you, Prospit?"
"Only the best." She replied with a half smile. You watch her a moment more- she doesn't want to ask. You shake your head at her stubbornness, and retreat for a few moments, into your cabin. You come back out, with your coat as she's heading towards the ladder, looking dejected. Once more, you are taken by surprise at her actions; and you are quick to stride over, and drop your coat over her shoulders.
Instantly thin hands are grasping at the edges of it, tugging it tight around her, smaller frame being entirely taken over by the wind-deterrent materials.
"Would you like a tour of the Last Dance?" You ask, somewhat awkwardly.
"Yes, please? I've… never really been on a ship larger than my own little stock-putter." She replies quietly, and you can hear the gratitude heavy in her voice.
You put an arm around her shoulder, and lead her below deck, to show her the inner- workings of your sky ship… and to share your body heat with her, to prevent her from freezing over. Almost instantly she looks relieved at the lack of wind, and you can't help but smile; you forget that a lot of ships don't fly in the cold of night, like you sometimes tend to do; they aren't used to the bite of the cold. As you show her your dual piston and steam combustion chambers, and the powered turbines, you glance over to see her face contorted into expressions of either curiosity or analysis. Once or twice you catch a glimpse of epiphany as something about the mechanics click together in her head. You can't help but think it's cute, as you show her the side cannons, the front gattlings, and take pride in your artillery set up.
You think for sure that her choppy blond hair and usual garb of yellow and leather looks better in the warm rays of the sun than it does against the cool black of the night as you go on, explaining how one person could sail this ship on their own if they were experienced. Then, by the time you get through the galley, and pass the double lined cargo hold, complete with a side unloading hatch… you feel yourself smiling, and your chest tightening with every little joke that somehow started to work into the soft banter between you two- some time back at the pistons.
As you make your way back on deck, she looks around, this time with new knowledge, and by the way she seems to be calculating silently, you know she is seeing the ship in its full glory and capability, its potential- how it is supposed to be seen. Then she looks at you, and your throat becomes tighter than your chest.. because she isn't calculating any more- rather.. she is, but it's not the same. There is something different now, and you have a feeling you know what it is. Your head is screaming no, and your heart is screaming yes, so hard, that both might just burst.
She shuffles across the cold wood of the deck, and you aren't sure when she reached out to grab at your shirt, or when she tugged, nervously, to get you to lean down to her height. You are sure, though, that when the visible condensation of your breaths mix together, that you kiss her, first. You're also sure that your feet are possessed, when she tugs you, leading you backwards towards the one place you didn't show her— your cabin— and they follow with only minor hesitation. Some how the kiss has gotten more needy, and you're both trying not to trip over each other, across the deck. However, you manage to catch the frame of the door, as it's kicked open, and you find yourself holding her around the waist, pressed as close to you as you could possibly get her at this point— at least you know she isn't shivering from the cold any more.
"Prospit, wait— think about this, are you su-"
"Please. Alexander, please?" She asked, almost quietly, and it shuts you up instantly. You search for anything- any reason to say no, to send her out to sleep in the alleys of Sky Watch, to stop exactly where you are, and save your heart before she breaks it… because you know she will. Yet, you find nothing but adoration and want in her eyes, and need in the way she clings to you, almost for support. You lean in again, and this time kiss the top of her head, before under her eyes, one by one, followed by a soft kiss to the lips. Slow and steady, comforting- something she didn't realize she needed, nor she realized she was silently asking for.
She shares your bed, in those hours before dawn, and after, you ask her to stay. Her response is no word nor phrase, but the simple action of her curling into the shape of your body, and making herself comfortable. You muse that she fits there, almost perfectly, and let yourself drift to sleep, wonder who is right; your heart or your brain.
You wake up, again, this time— but not to the sound the familiar creaking of your beloved ship, but to the echoing thud of boot on wood across a deck, and the morning bustle of the sky-dock. This is more than unusual, and as you shift to wake up, you slip from where your back is propped against the boulder, and fall side ways into the grass.
You are suddenly awake and alert as you wipe the dew from your arm and face, and scramble up. You're at your dock, still, but you are now in your night clothes, with your coat- which had been draped over you as a blanket. You can feel cracks as your heart drops to the ground, and you can hear the shattering as your brain says 'I told you so.'
Because your ship is gone.
She took it.
You told her everything she needed to know, to fly it, and she worked her way into your trust, before ripping it right out from under you.
Your heart is crying out- you had hoped that… perhaps she was going to be different. Maybe she wasn't going to take advantage of your kindness like all others.
You trusted her; and, it was your mistake.
Screams of pain in your chest turn into a yell of anger a you take off down the dock, to your home across the island. Your older, local ship, is still in working condition, and you were going to be damned if you let that little thief get away with your ship. You were the Dock Master!
You'd be damned if you were going to let her get away with that little piece of your heart that she took, as well.
She was going to get locked in the Sky Watch prison, and it was going to be by your doing.
After all, this is what you got for trying to let yourself love, again.