The rich colour of Caspian's exotic coloured eyes deepened with the reflection of the sun. A breeze blew, making the tips of his messy white hair dance to the music of the wind. Sweat glistened like diamonds on his forehead, and his cheeks were flushed, resembling the red apple held in his hand. His face was scrunched up in a sort of dazed expression, but he shook his head and smiled like this encounter was meant to happen.
Alana let go and pushed him forward, instructing him to turn around and face her. She glanced at his clothes. He was wearing a dirty white dress shirt with a rip at the right-hand sleeve. The shirt was tucked into ankle length-breeches, and he wore black riding boots. The mismatched, peculiar dressing of Caspian would have looked rather oddly disastrous on anyone else, but Caspian made it look as if it were the latest fashion. The rip on his sleeve somehow complemented the rest of his outfit. Alana momentarily closed her eyes and dismissed her thoughts, thinking them rather uncalled for.
''Thief,'' she said coldly, glancing at the apple in his hands.
''Pirate,'' he replied in acknowledgement with a nonchalant shrug as if it were the same thing.
Despite Caspian's jolly expression, Alana could hear the bitter undertone in his voice. It was an indication that it wasn't the same thing, not to him anyway.
''What are ye doing stealing from my ship?'' she questioned, her pistol pointed straight at the centre of his forehead.
Caspian lifted his hands in defence. ''I did not know this fine ship belonged to such a fine lady,'' he smirked. ''No wonder you spoke of piracy like it was a part of you.''
Alana narrowed her eyes at him. ''I mentioned piracy once, in the state of intoxication.''
Caspian stared at her with a sparkling glint in his eyes and with a broad grin that didn't seem to fit the circumstance he was in. ''You tend to mumble a lot when you are asleep.'' He winked.
Alana raised her eyebrows, taken aback. She didn't know what happened after she lost consciousness, and she hoped it was nothing remotely appalling. Various thoughts swivelled in her mind, and when one specific thought settled in her head she couldn't help herself, and her next few words came out like a running faucet before she could think.
''Ye son of a prostitute.'' She shook her head incredulously dumbfounded. She shook her thoughts away. No, it wasn't that. They didn't do that. She would never. Well, not with him anyway.
''Ooh.'' Caspian placed a hand over his heart and feigned a pained expression. ''I did not expect such hard words to pour out of such soft-looking lips.''
Alana was about to make an unpleasant retort when the sound of footsteps ascending the ship caught her attention. She kept her eyes glued to Caspian's, her ears perking up.
''Aye Captain, what do we have hier?'' the gruff voice of Red Nick questioned.
"A friend. Nothing to bother ye self with,''
''Aye, I'll just take me things down to the galley then ai.'' Red Nick's voice was casual, filled with credence.
He didn't even think to doubt her, despite the gun pointed towards Caspian. Granted, pirates were fond of displaying their weapons against one another, but still, Red Nick was filled with trust to the brim.
Her heart sank.
Her crew would be broken when they finally uncovered her lies. Whatever punishment they choose to pursue in retaliation would be fitting. She would deserve it.
''Ye do that.''
Alana heard the sound of hard boots hitting against the wood and the sound of a swinging door. Caspian looked at Alana incredulously, as if he couldn't comprehend as to why she would lie about his true identity. She was hoping he wouldn't ask because she wasn't sure she could give him an answer. When he didn't say anything, Alana spoke.
''So what is ye story?'' she asked and narrowed her eyes at him. The grip on her pistol tightened.
Caspians smile grew narrower. ''I normally don't talk about my tragic life story on only the second date, but since such a breathtakingly beautiful lady is pointing a deadly weapon at me, I think I can make an exception.'' Caspian's voice was light, but his eyes were carefully focused on the pistol.
''Go on then. I don't have all day.''
Caspian should have either been put in the ship's prison cells or should have been a corpse by now. But something was stopping Alana from doing either. She was intrigued in a way she had never been before.
''I am, as you know, a common thief,'' he said, softly and uncomfortably. Turning away from her, he looked blankly at the ocean. His grin removed itself from his face as if it were never there in the first place.
''It is more a forced lifestyle then an ambition one chooses to pursue. When everything is ripped from a person and disintegrates itself into oblivion, one is left with little choice. A burning hole of everlasting blackness can only be filled by so little. ''
The sun became obscured by thick, puffy clouds as he spoke, turning the bright blue sky into an almost dull greyish colour. Caspian's eyes were as distant as mountain peaks, the bright glint extinguished, and the sun's absence did not help in retrieving the sparkle that reminded Alana of polished diamonds.
''The loss of everything a man knows can turn him into something new, almost reborn like a life before what happened never existed. The pain than anything else mostly determines the path he chooses next.'' Caspian cleared his throat.
Alana stilled, and her grip on the weapon unintentionally loosened. She did not expect this reply. It was almost as if she was talking to a completely different person. She didn't know how to respond; she couldn't open her mouth. His words struck her like a blow in the face. Such simple statements touched concealed, unhealed places that she didn't dare to give attention before, but now everything was coming back.
Caspian didn't seem to notice the eruptions of pain and remembrance that was happening within Alana. The understanding. She couldn't point out what exactly from his few words caused such a reaction, but she knew somewhere inside her a barrier shattered as if all this time it were only fragile glass. Her reason for remaining a pirate, her reasoning for everything she has done after she turned fourteen. He understood, yet he didn't even know.
Alana's hands were shaking now, and her grip on her pistol was unsteady. She hated feeling like this. Weak. She felt invaded as if the past and all the feelings she had been running from penetrated into her and was now stuck like a leech.
''And stealing from me might just be the end to all that pain.''
Caspian didn't seem to catch on to the true intentions of her words. He looked at her; his sombre expression diminished the only reminder of his pained expression was the still echo of its passing. He smiled, not his usual boyish grin that Alana had become accustomed to in such a short period of time, but a smile all the same.
''Now, now, such a statement is not proper for a lady. Though I do not doubt a pirate such as yourself can steal away the pain that makes a man a man, and turn it into pleasure.''
Alana almost recoiled in repulsion.''Ye completely twisted my words into a meaning only a mind such as yers can conjure.''
''I've been told that my stupefying imagination really accelerates things in the darkness of the night if you get what I mean.''
''On the contrary. It seems that ye have a big mouth, but a rather small brain.'' Alana was getting tired of the futile back and forth banter. Before Caspian could reply, she spoke.
''What do I do with ye thief?'' she questioned.
''I would actually like to stay on your ship,'' he said, almost sheepishly.
Alana raised an eyebrow at that. ''Well, I hope ye find The Oceans Warrior's rusty and grubby cells a very pleasant, comfortable place to lodge.''
Caspian exhaled loudly with a chuckle and looked at his riding boots.
''I was hoping you would allow me to stay on your ship as part of your crew.''
If Alana had rum in her mouth she would have choked on it. ''Sink me! Ye have truly gone insane. Ye imagination is really carrying ye into some sort of mirage. Is it the heat?''
''No, no. To be frank, I think the only effect the sun has on me is how it brings out my eyes.''
''Well, ye think of a lot of densely, dim-witted things. For instance, how ye could ever think ye would make a valuable member of my crew.''
Alana's arm was getting numb from raising her pistol for so long. All for a chat with a naïve, narcissistic buffoon. Well, a good-looking, naïve, narcissistic buffoon. She shook that thought away.
''Look, please. I need to leave Mourijmo today. I need to take leave as soon as possible.'' Caspian momentarily closed his eyes and he clenched his fist. ''I'll scrub the floors and prepare the food, and I will pay you for passage on this ship.'' His voice turned pleading. He brought his clenched fist above his head and then to his mouth and then dropped it.
His eyes darted from the land to her, his eyes desperate. Alana let a chuckle escape from her lips, a grin now plastered on her face.
''And what did the common thief do to make him beg from a pirate?'' She put her pistol back into her stash and crossed her arms, amused.
''May I assume that by putting away your pistol, you don't want to imprison and or kill me, and therefore trust me?'' Caspian looked almost hopeful, as he threw the apple back into the barrel.
''I don't trust anyone. All my gesture symbolized was that I now know ye need something from me, therefore ye mean no threat. Well, for now.''
Alana thought it unnecessary to mention the cramping in her arm.
''So tell me,'' she continued, ''who did ye anger, and what did ye do to need to flee this dreaded place?''
Caspian laughed. ''I must say, you have extensively covered the basis of my story. But in an attempt of futile elaboration, let's just say I tried to disturb something important, and it didn't go well with the navy.''
Alana sent him a glare that made him stiffen in surprise. This idiotic fool was the reason the navy was in town. He was the reason she killed a man today. She inhaled while nodding her head.
''So let me get this straight.'' she slowly exhaled. ''Ye managed to basically anger the government, therefore resulting in the entire navy trying to track ye down, and ye would like to escape by means of boarding my ship?''
''Yes, that about covers it.'' He paused and shook his head. ''Well, I wouldn't say the government, not this time.''
Alana set her lips in a straight line taking note of this time. Who is this man, and just how much trouble has he been able to get himself into?
''Ye truly have the most insufferable, doltish character I have ever come across,'' she said, miffed.
''Why, thank you. I interpret your statement as complementing my uniqueness,''
''As I said, completely insufferable. Besides, Mr. Caspian-''
''- Oh God, please don't use the word Mr., as it makes me sound rather old.''
Alana closed her eyes impatiently. If the nitwit was spotted on her ship, he would get them both in trouble.
''Ye are intensifying the headache that was about to relieve itself.'' She said it expecting a quick retort, but she was met with silence.
When she opened her eyes she saw Caspian looking at her. Like really looking at her, as if he was seeing her for the first time. His intense gaze seemed to penetrate into her, invading her mind, leaving swatches of its presence behind. She didn't know why a mere gaze of some thief made her stomach churn in nervousness or why blood seemed to rush to her cheeks, tainting her olive coloured cheeks crimson. She tried to ignore the urge and the itching to move forward, to defy the unfamiliar, alien feeling of closeness. She stared into his prepossessing eyes, his gaze digging deep into every inch of her. His expression was unreadable, it was a mix of various emotions yet at the same time of nothing; of complete blankness.
Before her mind could wander further, Caspian looked away, breaking eye contact. And just like that, the fleeting moment was gone and reality settled in. Alana cleared her throat.
''It would be foolish to carry a wanted man on my vessel when I have my men taking shelter in the same town ye are running away from. It will only put my own at risk.''
''No one has to know that I took passage on your ship. Not if we leave soon.''
''And how can I be sure that ye have not been followed?''
''One thing you don't need to doubt regarding my many impressive qualities, is the ability to escape the foolishness of the navy. Besides, look around,'' he said, spreading his arm out and waving it. ''There are neither navy ships nor any Alistinian ships on the harbour. Once we leave, they cannot chase after us,'' he smirked. ''They have no ship to do so.''
Alana narrowed her eyes at him. He was right, there were no Alistinian ships at the port. Not even a merchant's vessel. ''Why would the navy track ye to Mourijmo if they had no vessel to pursue ye with?''
''Because they don't think I would escape utilizing a ship.''
Alana crossed her arms. This made no sense. The navy were sailors; they didn't pursue people via land. That was the great guard's way of doing things. Caspian looked at her and it was as if he read her mind.
'' Let me explain,'' he said with a shake of his head. ''A friend of mine--another thief--stole something valuable from the head admiral.'' He spoke quickly, almost swallowing his words. ''Unfortunately, he got quite tardy due to his excitement and got nabbed. He was sentenced to hang without trial--illegally of course--and, being the great friend that I am, I couldn't let that happen.
The Alistinian navy decided to implement its illegal activities here in the ghastly town of Mourijmo. These good for nothing bastards like a show in the name of righteousness when we all know its a cover to feed the cackling devils within.'' Caspian grit his teeth and Alana smirked. ''So, I created a great racket and helped him escape. But of course, the great baboon had to clumsily slip and hit his head against the great bong, notifying the navy of our presence. Great, snobby brutes the lot of them, coming to witness an illegal hanging because of an even greater brute of an admiral,'' he huffed, '' and well you can guess the rest,'' he said, pushing his messy hair out of his eyes.
''Where is ye friend now, and why aren't ye with him?'' she asked with curiosity.
''Taking refuge in some abandoned building.''
Alana thought back to where she found the admiral. She wondered if she killed him before he could find Caspian's friend or if the admiral managed to get to him before that.
''His with an associate of his. I, on the other hand, don't have that many alliances in this grubby place, and my only choice is to escape and avoid hanging.''
''The lack of allies makes sense.'' Alana chuckled mockingly. ''It's only my second chat with ye and a noose surrounding my neck sounds more pleasant than staying in ye company.''
''Oh, don't fool yourself, my lady. We both know that the only reason you want out of this situation is due to your unableness to resist my God-like self, and you are afraid of what you might do if you spend a second longer with me.'' He smiled as charmingly as the devil himself. ''Don't fret, I am used to most women acting in such a manner, and unlike my reaction to those women, I don't mind fulfilling your hidden desire.'' He chuckled once more.
Alana shook her head incredulously. The nerve of this man was astounding.
Caspian glanced towards the land once more and his face suddenly became serious. ''So what do you say my lady? May I board your ship and avoid death?''
The word no was at the tip of Alana's tongue. It was an obvious answer that did not need hesitation or a second thought. Yet, Alana was dubious, and her doubtfulness stirred something in her that she couldn't quite shake off. Those eyes, her dreams. She shook her head.
''This conversation is getting rather tedious, and I am running out of time if I must be frank,'' Caspian spoke, his words escaping at an even faster pace. "Please, I don't have many choices left, and the thought of being captured by the navy is not a tasteful one."
The same unreadable expression donned his face, and Alana wished she could interpret the mismatched signs he was sending her, with his changing demeanours. He was a complex puzzle, one Alana wished to solve.
''I agree with ye. Time is a treasure not even the most experienced of pirates can obtain.'' Alana stopped and hesitated.
She rolled her eyes at her next few words before it even escaped her mouth.
''The wooden bucket and brush are in the longboat, get scrubbing. I want to be able to see my reflection when ye are done with it.''
Caspian looked genuinely bewildered. He shook his head, a grin taking the place of his agape mouth.
''Aye Captain.'' Caspian whistled and walked to the longboat.
When Alana was sure that he was far enough not to see her expression, she let her mouth curve into a smile. She looked down at the unblemished floorboards. It was just recently polished, but Caspian didn't need to know that. She bit her lip and walked the familiar path in the direction of the captain's quarters. On her way, she passed Caspian. He was crouched low hovering over the longboat, ruffling through the contents within, most probably trying to find the wooden bucket.
''Oh, I forgot,'' she said, ''the cleaning tools are by the ship's gunpowder stores. Be careful on your way down there. Arola's poisonous pet serpent is lingering around that path and doesn't like to be disturbed.''