The pre-dawn hours were Jack's least favourite time of the day. The air would be as still as the atmosphere of a graveyard while the windows would glow softly of indigo. Everything would stand still, with only the ticking of the clock to signify the passage of time. He thought it was too damn quiet. Glazed, green eyes would gaze outside through cold sheets of glass without a word, silently watching the flurry of howling snow scour the empty London streets as it desperately tried to worm its way into his workshop. He would stand there for a few minutes every day, eyes and expression empty but mind stuffed with memories he would give anything to forget. Jack would remember the times he stood on the deck of an airship, clad in bulky pirate gear, watching snow drift by as silently as he did now.
Running a tanned hand through dark, spiky hair, the young man abandoned his post by the window. He crept past worn couches, old desks and mismatching armchairs to the opposite side of the room. Pressing an inquisitive ear to a solid oak door, Jack sighed with relief upon hearing muffled, quiet puffs of breath. He stood still as a statue as he listened to his brother sleep for a while longer, needing to hear more evidence that he was really alive.
An intricate tattoo of a skull and crossed bones appeared as Jack rolled up his sleeve to glance at his watch. Lip curling the slightest bit, his mind swirled with new insults and remarks to greet David with when he awoke. A daily ritual of his.
Moving away from the bedroom door, Jack could hear the logs in the fireplace crackle feebly, emanating with the barest wisp of warm air as the flames were starved. He took calm, orderly steps to the calendar hanging above a counter-top cluttered with bottled chemicals, scraps of parchment and glass vats full of candy-coloured powders to mark off another day.
It was snowing the day Jack's ship was attacked.
Noticing that he'd run out of ink, Jack rummaged through nearby desk drawers to hunt for more. Brushing aside stolen amulets, old guns, dead insects and a few stray gold coins, he found a pot of fresh ink and dipped his pen in it, scratching a small cross on a calendar date.
He'd been gazing at the white specks from a distance far enough away so as not to get cold, but close enough to be mesmerised at the dancing flakes. That's when he heard a distant boom and the floor beneath him jerked.
Rolling his shoulders, Jack deposited himself on an armchair and stared at a sheet of ink-blotted parchment on the worn coffee table by his feet.
He remembered barking orders to half of his crew to get to the big guns while the other half worked to keep the ship in the air, barely audible over the sound of roaring cannons and gun fire. He remembered loading one of the pistols he'd stolen from a Navy officer, about to aim a shot at the pirate steering the enemy ship when he heard a particularly loud whump and a choked gasp from nearby.
He screwed up the parchment into a ball and threw it into the fireplace, watching it erupt in flames as the fire eagerly devoured its snack.
He turned to see David standing a while away, eyes the size of plates as the blood drained from his face.
Jack stared at the fire with cold eyes.
He could never forget David's blood-curdling scream.
"…Jack?" someone mumbled, voice thick with sleep.
Jack blinked as his mind was whipped back to the present. He turned his head to see David standing in the doorway, wiping a spot of drool from the corner of his pale lips. His dark hair was scruffy and pointed every which way while he blinked away the final dregs of sleep from emerald eyes.
Jack smiled softly. "Mornin', bed-head."
David arched an unamused eyebrow, reaching up with one hand and combing his hair with his fingers in a futile attempt to tame his wild locks. "…mornin'."
Jack chuckled, rising to his feet and pattering to the side of the room.
"Why're you up so early?" asked David, seating himself in an armchair and watched Jack dig through the contents of a chest.
Jack paused, staring at David's prosthetic arm in his hands with soft eyes. "…couldn't sleep."
The clock kept ticking. Time marches on.
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