Of Eggs And Things
Chapter 7: Going West
Location: Steamhawke Deck
Harriet sat cross-legged off to the side of the deck, her brilliant emerald wings tucked under each other across her chest. She had barely been around a week and already she was finding few quiet moments on the Steamhawke. Not to say she regretted landing here, quite the contrary. The Icari girl loved all the hubub and goings on, fascinated by all the new experiences, and even for one as hungry as her she was content as far as food was concerned, the sea below providing a bounty of various new and tasty sea creatures she hadn’t tried before.
Still, right now something other than fish was on her mind as she sat there, staring down at something sitting on deck in front of her. Her mouth curled in thought as she stared at the objects, wondering what to do with them. She still remembered the last time she was in this situation and above all else wanted to avoid a repeat performance.
The ship tilted slightly and the rounded objects began rolling to one side, towards the railing and the sea below. The girl gasped and blocked their path with her wing, gently scooping the objects up and putting them in her lap for safer keeping. Even without trying she’d almost lost them again. “What am I gonna do with you...” she mumbled to herself, lost on thought over the little white ovals in her lap.
Azzo turned the corner around a canvas covered stack of crates, lunch cradled in his hand, brow furrowed in a scowl. Carol's drunken singsong had warned him away from the forecastle and sent him hunting for a niche to settle in and eat his rations in peace. The site of the winged figure brought him up abruptly. A few men from his mercenary days, especially those from the Old West had told tales of Icari, but it wasn't until Dae had hired one on that Azzo had actually believed they existed. Even then, busy with his work and exhausted at night, he'd done little more than see flashes of her here and there in the hub-bub.
He caught enough of her murmured sentence to realize he was interrupting. "Pardon me," he apologized, feeling absurd. Whatever Icari customs were, he had no idea if he was being polite or not. "I didn't mean to interrupt." Harriet looked up quickly at the intrusion. She spent a brief moment eyeballing the stranger, who she vaguely remembered seeing around a bit, before leaping to her feet and swiftly invading the man’s personal space by getting a little closer than one would usually be in a conversation with friends, let alone one you’re meeting for the first time.
“Perfect timing!” the girl shouted, seemingly oblivious to how uncomfortable she might be making Azzo. Whether she was just a little dense when it came to social skills or if she was just overly excited for some reason, none could say. Regardless, the Icari suddenly shoved her wings in front of the man’s face. “What should I do with these?” she asked, barely giving time to allow Azzo to even figure out what she was talking about. Upon closer inspection, however, it turned out that in the girl’s cupped wings lay a small clutch of what appeared to be five white chicken eggs.
The feathery wings fanning his face may have been unfamiliar, but there was nothing strange about the exuberance of a youngster with a treasure. Discomfort softening into bemusement, Azzo tipped his head back far enough to focus on the shapes the Icari had thrust under his nose. "Eggs?" he asked, peering down at them. The girl nodded, smiling. “Yep! I laid them this morning!” she answered without fanfare. It didn’t even occur to her that amongst most people laying eggs wasn’t something considered normal, or even natural. “I’m trying to decide how to prepare them! Last time I tried frying and ended up dropping them into the sea...” she continued, sighing at the memory of her lost breakfast. Suddenly her face lit up as the Icari girl deduced a solution to her problem. “Can you cook them for me?” she asked before gesturing to her wings. “It’s hard to hold a pan with these, you know!”
"You eat them..." Azzo said, arriving at the point slowly. The words had been so cheerfully nonchalant they'd nearly slid past him. He looked down at the eggs, considering them carefully. They didn't look like-- well, he had no idea what he'd thought they'd look like. They looked for all the world like chicken's eggs. Maybe they were a touch larger, or a little rounder than the ones he'd so often scoured the farmyard for but-- no, they looked like chicken's eggs. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair with a rueful smile. If he hadn't come across anything stranger yet in his travels, he'd at least come across things far more unpleasant than being asked to fry a few eggs regardless of where --or who-- they came from. "I see."
“Of course!” Harriet said laughing. “What else am I gonna do with them?” Azzo regarded her. The woman had a point. He held up his hands in defeat. "We don't lay eggs," he said. "I've never thought about it before." Harriet tilted her head to the side, confused. She hadn’t thought about it much before either. “Well... you’re a guy, right?” she mused without thinking. "What? Oh..." Understanding struck Azzo. "I meant humans don't lay eggs. Human men especially," he added.
“Wow, that’s so weird!” Harriet said, smiling, now understanding exactly what he meant. It wasn’t often she discussed the dynamics of the differences in human and Icari anatomy! “I just figured everyone laid eggs!” she said, laughing again. The idea of a big squirming chick popping out of you was just so... strange. “Well anyway, these little guys aren’t gonna be doing any hatching.” she said, gesturing with her head to the eggs in her wings. “They’re way to small to have been fertilized!” she said with a giggle.
“Besides, it’s not like there are any mates way out here who could have done so to begin with!” the Icari girl continued, seemingly completely unashamed or embarrassed about discussing such a private subject with a complete stranger. "I suppose not," Azzo echoed. He looked back down at the eggs again, considering Harriet's request. "If you can't hold a pan, how do you usually cook them?" Harriet thought for a moment with a blank look on her face, as if her brain momentarily shut off. “While it’s not that I can’t hold one...” she mumbled, finally. “It’s just... hard, you know? Especially with the ship rocking back and forth.” The girl grimaced for a moment, as if reflecting on a painful memory. “I just don’t want to drop them again...” she said with a sniff and looking almost as if the thought of ruining her potential meal again was about to make her break out in tears.
"You could boil them," Azzo suggested, unsure exactly how the Icari girl had shifted from chipper to tearful quite to quickly. "Or ask the cook to." Harriet tilted her head to the side in a pout. “The cook yelled at me...” she mumbled through her lips. “Said I was making a mess...” The comment on boiling them, it seemed, flew right over her head. Azzo's dealings with the cook had been limited to being handed a bowl of porridge or a slab of salted, boiled meat. He didn't seem like the type to bother himself with yelling, but then again, the mess was always scrupulously clean. It was almost unnerving to a man like Azzo, used to cooking and eating in the rough. He supposed that a fellow who kept his kitchen that clean, might take exception to an Icari throwing around eggs. "Were you?" he questioned.
Harriet looked at Azzo through the corner of her eyes. “No...” the girl paused, creating an obvious awkward silence. “I mean I knocked a couple pans over but nothing major!” she retorted, turn back to face Azzo. "I would not knock over pans in his kitchen were I you, then," Azzo suggested. "Some people get odd about their kip. And maybe an apology might help his temper.” A scoff was Harriet’s reply. “He said he’d cook me up and chased me away!” she stammered. “Besides, it was an accident anyway! He should apologize for being such a meanie!”
It was a credit to Azzo's manners that he hid his smile as well as he did. "I haven't been a pirate for long, but I don't think they do that," he counseled. “Well he... he... he sho- hold on...” Harriet began, but was interrupted mid-sentence by an unearthly huge growl from her gut. At the sound the Icari girl’s posture visibly slumped. “Oh... my tummy is so empty...” the girl whined softly. “I haven’t eaten anything since that salmon an hour ago...” she complained, more thinking out loud than to Azzo. One wonders the depths of this tiny girls stomach if such a large meal would leave it empty so soon.
"You're hungry already?" Despite the fact that his parceled lunched was tucked in his hand, his own belly was still pleasantly full from breakfast. Over the last few weeks Rosita had spoiled him with breakfasts large enough for her sons, and though the food aboard the Steamhawke wasn't prepared with the finesse Rosie had, it still clung to the ribs with equal enthusiasm. "How often to Icari eat?" The mention of eating forced Harriet’s mind to wander to the thought of tasty, tasty food. Her face briefly went blank as a spot of drool crept out of the corner of her mouth before she snapped out of it.
“Well... I eat when I’m hungry...” she started, stating aloud the thought process that was bringing her to the answer. “So I guess maybe once or twice an hour?” She giggled a bit at her own thoughts, but swiftly remembered she was in a conversation and added what she found so funny. “My sisters always say I eat a lot, though.” she said with a smile. “Not that they eat much less, but I guess it’s because I’m so much smaller than them.” Azzo sighed. He could already see this entire conversation was going nowhere, especially not with such a voracious creature. And if you can’t beat them...
“Alright, I suppose we could head down to the kitchen and see what we can do...” he said, giving into the cheerful girl. Harriet jumped up and down, clapping her wings together with glee. “Hurray! Time to eat!” she exclaimed happily, before stopping almost in midair as a look of shock came over her face. In her excitement the Icari girl had forgotten she was holding eggs in her cupped wings. Eggs which now lay cracked and broken against the deck. The girl looked around herself at the yolks seeping out from the broken shells, her face completely blank in shock.
“Uh... Uh... Uhwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” the girl shrieked as tears welled up in her eyes. It seemed all this talk had been for nothing in the end, and Azzo found his hand instinctively hitting his forehead at the silliness of the entire affair. It seems he had a new mess to clean up now.