An Old Favour
Chapter 4: Storm Brewing
Location: Steamhawke, meeting room
Timeline: sometime tba
The potato on the plate was being squashed again and again, as Captain Daenelia stabbed it with her fork. Laudine had brought her the plate from the kitchen, promising that Mr. Doran had take special care to make the food taste better than it looked. It was an empty promise, as Daenelia noticed she chewed her mouthful of what was supposed to be beef for 5 minutes. "Must be the fog, making things taste like ash," she mumbled to herself.
J. Noone had been hesitant to step about, but he knew better than to give up now. His metal foot clanked against the deck, in spite of the rubber base that was meant to conceal the noise. He glanced around, trying to catch somebody staring at him, almost wanting to pick a fight. "Damn right," he mumbled under his breath as he followed the deckhand - he hadn't caught her name - down into the ship. He wasn't sure how he would react to seeing Daenelia again. It had been a long time. Though he didn't usually get nervous, he found thin beads of sweat welling in his palms. Wiping his hands carelessly on his vest, he stepped through the threshold, taking in her sorry sight. "You must be the reason for this weather," he joked loudly, sounding infinitely more confident than he was feeling. "Bad news follows you, Bradley."
The Captain looked up and at first could not believe seeing this man on board her ship, right now. Where did he come from? Did he fly in? "How did you get here?" she said in an incredulous tone. "You're supposed to be in jail! In Brittania!" She was now unsure if he was here to kill her or to hug her. Did she see a little smile play around his lips? Daenelia decided to chance it and smiled broadly. She got up and walked around the table, extending her hands to grasp J.'s in a friendly handshake. "How have you been?"
He took her hand, squeezing it back, though he, too, was concerned as to how she would react. The fact that she was smiling helped. Deciding that she probably wasn't going to throw him overboard once they took off again, he matched her smile. "I've got my ways of avoiding the Clink. I don't go down without a fight." He released her hand and looked her over, as if sizing her up. "But that's in the past. What's important is I'm here. Alive. Working for you." He winked at her, though with the eye patch it was difficult to tell the difference between winking and regular blinking. "Been avoiding this conversation, that's how I've been. Still expecting to see some goons of yours grab me by the arm and throw me into this gods-be-damned fog." He paused, smiling again. "And what about you? Aside from sailing into the unknown like a foolhardy madwoman, have things been good since..." He trailed off, not wanting to complete the thought, but nodded his head curtly to get his idea across.
Daenelia had the courtesy to turn red with embarrasment. "That should never have happened, and I am sorry I let it happen... and... let's just not mention it right now." She patted him on the upper arm and went looking for brandy. "Things have been ... interesting!" she said over her shoulder, as she opened a cabinet on the wall. Picking up a bottle and two cups she went back to the table to pour them a drink. "We're close to finding the treasure of Quazlatah. I acquired a map, just before Jack Stallion got his hands on it." She offered a cup to J. "Do you remember Captain Stallion, at all?"
Having to look at the ground to avoid her blush, J nodded once more in agreement. "What's passed has passed," he said. As she went to fetch herself a drink, he sat in the seat across from where she had first been, pulling her plate towards him. He poked a piece of supposed beef, then stuck it in his mouth, trying to swallow it as quickly as possible. Dry. "I know the name. We might have crossed paths a few times, but if we did, I bested him." J grinned, pushing the meat into his cheek to speak properly. He accepted the glass of brandy, taking a quick sip to help digesting the meat easier. After a heavy swallow, he looked at the Captain again. "But you're really telling me you went all this way for some treasure? Are you even sure it exists? I'm starting to question what I signed up for."
He asked the questions she had feared every single one of her crew would have asked on being hired. But because this was J., she owed him an honest answer. "It's been a while since I had an experienced crew. I would have preferred to have taken on some fat merchants ships between here and Seaport. But the man who sold me this map, he promised me this would be easy pickings. A sure thing. Even if it is not the Quazlatah treasure, it should be enough to share with this crew." She took a big sip of her drink. "And it would not kill them." At that J. gave her a long stare with his one eye. "Entering ships is dangerous! I've got kids on board these days! I can't lose them again..." She stopped herself there.
"Funny as it may seem, J., I am glad to have someone I know on board," she said, as if to cover what she laid bare of her inner thoughts.
"And if it's not enough to share?" J responded quickly, crossing his arms against his chest, pulling his mouth into a small frown. He was attempting to stare Daenelia down, but was finding it increasingly difficult. "You're trying, I can see that, but what if this goes wrong? What if it's a wild goose chase?" He took another swig of the brandy, sloshing it around in his mouth before swallowing. "Are you sure they're loyal? That's what you need to worry about. You can find another crew." He shot her a small smirk. "You've already done that once or twice. But that crew needs to trust you."
For a moment, he considered continuing, but instead stole another chunk of the tasteless, dry beef across from him. "I'm glad there's somebody here to keep you in check," he said with a hoarse laugh, tossing the meat into his mouth and struggling to eat it. He washed it down with the brandy again, looking her over. "I've got your back, Captain. You can count on it."
The tension that had been brewing disappeared for the most part. Daenelia could smile sincerely now. "Just don't forget that you called me Captain," she said in a light tone. "That means I still get to give the orders around here. And if the treasure turns out to be just a fantasy after all... It will be good to have you by my side when we get ready to attack an easy merchant ship."
They grinned at the thought of some fighting action. "Still," Daenelia said stubbornly, "that treasure will be out there. It has to be."
Fighting alongside her again seemed like the sort of thing that would haunt J's nightmares for the rest of his life, but he continued to smile at her and bowed his head. "Give me all the orders you want, I only plan on listening to half of them."
"Still," Daenelia said stubbornly, "that treasure will be out there. It has to be."
He pushed his chair back, standing. As he did so, he straightened out his shirt and vest, nodding with the sophistication of a noble and - as if to go against that image - lifted his glass and shot back the remainder of what he had been poured by the Captain, screwing up his face as he swallowed, but let out a satisfied sigh. "For your sake, Captain, I really hope it is." He smiled at her again, this time less boastful and cocky, but apologetic and hopeful. J readjusted the hat atop his head, bowing it slightly in her direction, before walking towards the door again.
"Oh, and don't think I forgot about our bet!" he shouted as he left, looking over his shoulder and shooting her another attempt at a wink.